Beyond the Bowl: Branding and Environmental Design for Crazy Bowls & Wraps
Entering a new market provides a golden opportunity to take stock of your brand. That’s why Crazy Bowls & Wraps approached Atomicdust as they prepared to expand their restaurant franchise to Ohio.
The Crazy Bowls & Wraps story began in 1994, when Keith and Gail Kitsis opened a healthy fast-casual restaurant in Creve Coeur, Missouri named Bonzai Express. The restaurant, a mainstream approach to eccentric West Coast health food, was a hit. Fifteen restaurants and a name change later, Crazy Bowls & Wraps was well known throughout Missouri and Illinois.
Crazy Bowls takes pride in the quality of their food. They use nutritious recipes and source wholesome, local ingredients whenever possible, including cage-free chicken and organic tofu.
Most days, you’ll find someone from Atomicdust eating at the Crazy Bowls & Wraps on Lindell or picking up an order to go, but until we started working with Keith and Gail, we had no idea that the restaurant was focused on local, fresh ingredients. We just knew it was a fast, delicious lunch option.
After completing customer surveys and interviews with employees, we realized we weren’t alone: even die-hard Crazy Bowls fans were unaware that the food was made fresh in house with sustainably sourced ingredients.
Sure, the company’s “Fresh Food Fast” message was a little vague, and had become unfocused over the years, but it was also getting lost in a saturated market. The competition within the healthy fast-casual category is fierce, and traditional fast food restaurants have increasingly incorporated nutrition and wellness into their brands. It was time to elevate the Crazy Bowls story and the stakes.
That original tagline – “Fresh Food Fast” – was missing something fundamental. The Crazy Bowls team sees the quality of their food as tied to something greater: community. They believe that nutritious food is for everyone, and that the process of sourcing and serving it should be more environmentally friendly. They’ve begun to explore sustainability, clean water and food desert initiatives that can help them bring this vision to life.
From this thinking came the new tagline: “GO FOR THE GOOD.” Crazy Bowls believes in good food, and in doing good for the community and world. Their mission is to inspire people to live better lives, starting with access to better, healthier meals.
The word “crazy” in “Crazy Bowls & Wraps” once referred to the novelty of wraps, which found mainstream popularity in the 1990s. Now that wraps are everywhere, the name’s meaning needed to evolve. To keep “crazy” relevant to the new mission, we tied it to passion: “Everyone’s crazy about something. We’re crazy about the thought that food this good might bring more good into the world.”
We balanced the “heavier” global message with a light, quirky visual personality and palette. The logo and core design elements combine beautiful greens, bright magenta, soft neutrals, handwritten type and tiny line drawings to further differentiate Crazy Bowls within the category. New food photography (shot at our office!) showcases the freshness of the ingredients. At Crazy Bowls, “going for the good” can be simple, fun and delicious.
Our promise of simplicity extended to the menu, which we reworked for a better customer experience. Because Crazy Bowls offers so many options, cashiers frequently needed to walk intimidated customers through the ordering process and options. This was slowing down the line and creating a pressured environment at the register.
We reorganized the menu’s information and design into a clear three-step process. The new design ensures the eye can move from left to right, from decision to decision, without having to dart back and forth. Customers are now more likely to know what they want before it’s time to order.
Working closely with Helen Lee of TAO + LEE Associates, we began to envision the brand in three dimensions by planning out the new Blue Ash, Ohio location. Our efforts spanned everything from napkins, cups and to-go bags to outdoor signage and a graphic that runs the entire length of one wall. (Special shout-out to the team at Swift Print for their help!)
Animated “virtual posters” play on mounted television screens inside the store, enticing customers to try new menu items. We extended the brand from the smallest items (gift cards, dessert labels) to wayfinding signage for the bathrooms, drink fountain and condiment bar. Finally, we created graphics for a free water bottle refilling station to ensure the company’s broader mission is part of the store experience.
We look forward to sharing more as we build out the company’s full website, collaborate on new Ohio stores and continue to rebrand locations across Missouri and Illinois. Find your nearest restaurant at crazybowlsandwraps.com. (We recommend ordering the Caesar Wrap with grilled chicken. Trust us.)