Shops bring verve to clients Unilever, Shoppers Drug Mart and others

Today's consumers are looking for more than just product - they're looking for something that

Today’s consumers are looking for more than just product – they’re looking for something that

aesthetically complements their lifestyle, and

marketers as mainstream as Shoppers Drug Mart and Unilever are pushing the design envelope of even their most mundane products.

strategy asked several Canadian design shops to send us some of their best work in a variety of areas, from package design to exhibit design. We think you’re going to like what you see.

Without further delay, here is why design matters.

Red menace: Subplot design for Publik revisits revolution

Project: The Publik Drinkhouse & Eatery

Client: Earls Restaurants, Vancouver

Agency: Subplot Design, Vancouver

Creative directors:

Roy White,

Matthew Clark


Waldy Martens


Total Graphics

The concept

The newest business venture from Earls Restaurants owner Stan Fuller, The Publik Drinkhouse & Eatery attempts to appeal to a younger audience.

Earls enlisted Vancouver-based design shop Subplot to come up with an

identity, signage, collateral, uniforms and packaging suitable for a pub that, as Roy White,

principal at Subplot puts it, was conspicuously missing the ‘crazy old guy sitting in the corner with his Guinness.’

Interior design was by Vancouver-based M Studio. Subplot used its colour cues and themes. The Publik opened for business in south Edmonton in May.

The strategy

Earls didn’t have a name or location for the new venture.

Instead of ‘bar,’ Subplot went with ‘drinkhouse and eatery.’ White says that name properly reflects what The Publik offers including the two decades-plus of restaurant experience that Earls brings to the table. Even the spelling of ‘public’ was chosen to evoke what White calls ‘a sense of a meeting point for the people – almost a slightly Russian revolutionary feel.’

From there Subplot further played on the

‘public’ theme, using its

language and verbal

iconography in every element. For example, washrooms are called ‘publik exposure;’ beer glasses are labelled with the words ‘publik enemy’ (get it?); and staff wear badges that say ‘publik service.’

White describes this design strategy as interactive.

He says the colour palette is bold because it has to appeal to a young audience, which isn’t impressed by

subdued colours. Also, red was dropped behind all images to ‘give them a proprietary look.’

However, a conscious

decision was made to tone down the Soviet feel when going from identity (use of ‘publik’) to application (the items in the bar) where a more contemporary

sensibility was adopted.

Why design matters

The launch saw a 400-person lineup. Media coverage has come from the Vancouver Sun, Edmonton Sun and a story due in design mag HOW.

Says White: ‘Rather than just getting people mindlessly sitting at a bar drinking, you create a dialogue and through that build brand recognition.’