Responses by Dave Wassell, executive vice president and chief creative officer, MGH
Background: Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls, an East Coast–based fast casual restaurant chain, came to MGH for a brand refresh with a more focused, consistent voice across all media. Designing a new, more functional website comprised a big part of MGH’s strategy. Our goal for the site was to reflect its new brand personality while improving the user experience. Customers needed an easier way to find locations, see menus and place orders online or through mobile devices.
Design core: For some customers, the website is their very first experience with the brand. Mason’s customers tends to be more appreciative of the finer things in life, given the restaurant’s higher-than-average price point. We knew we had to create content that would intrigue them, so we did this through the telling of Mason’s story—how lobsters are brought in directly from the waters of Maine and prepared authentically—which we termed “Our Lobster Tale.” At the same time, high-end photography makes it nearly impossible for site visitors to not leave hungry. In this sense, the site became an extension of the in-restaurant experience.
Central features: Mason’s site had to address the needs of several different audiences: those who are new to Mason’s, those who want to order online and those who might want to open a franchise. We had to make sure the site would encourage each of these users. New users can see the authenticity in the lobster rolls that Mason’s offers in the photography, product shots, subtle animations and the brand story. For customers who want to order online, we used every opportunity we could to highlight the Order Online button, whether that be in the main navigation or in individual location pages. Finally, for potential franchisees, we wanted them to see that if they invest in the franchise, they would have a beautiful website that would support their business and encourage visitors to order or dine in at a location.
Favorite details: The site is simple—a reflection of Mason’s own product simplicity—and easy to navigate. The words and pictures evoke the feeling of classic Maine, which is exactly what we hoped to achieve. And to us, the design looks like the website of a much larger brand—which is good, because Mason’s is on its way to becoming one.