The Winnebago Cafe Packages Up Their Campfire Coffee

by Casha Doemland on 01/24/2019 | 3 Minute Read

The Winnebago, a cafe, music venue and bar in one, situated on the Eastside of Madison, WI was founded by two brothers as a way to celebrate their late mother's life.  As the brothers embarked on this journey, they needed a little assistance in dealing with the branding and packaging side of the business.

To keep things intimate, they reached out to David Bramson, a dear friend who also happens to be a freelance designer, to produce the designs. Together, they would create a well-rounded experience that focuses on the high and positive energy of the community as well as music and art.

We spoke with Bramson to learn how the space itself influenced the direction of the branding and packaging.


Walk us through the design process. How did you go from start to finish on this project?

The building itself served as a launching point. It's historic, and in a neighborhood that has worn many hats over the years, and I wanted to reflect a certain sense of that history and heritage. The only direction given by the client was to create the primary mark with oak/acorns serving as the inspiration.

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My initial thoughts ran to old woodcuts and engravings. As I explored that avenue, however, I couldn't help but feel it was a little too outdated. That's when I began exploring a halftone split on the oak leaf. 

Using a linework halftone, splitting it down the center of a pretty minimal oak leaf shape, seemed to capture a classic, timeless feel while also feeling contemporary and fresh. That treatment also becomes an established visual language for the brand to utilize across the scope of their services. From doing pattern work with it to photo-treatments for concerts and shows for the venue space, it allows the designs to be fluid and dynamic while remaining cohesive to the primary mark and look.

What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve and how did you accomplish it?

I just wanted the brand to be approachable, yet refined. Something that the community surrounding the space can feel proud of and welcomed to at all times. By keeping to a limited palette, and treating the type calm and cleanly, not overwhelming the visuals at all, serves that goal.

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Why did you opt to use white and dark blue for your designs? Is that the color scheme for the venue?

That was a big lead from the client. They requested blue to be the primary color as it's the only color against a pretty muted palette of canvas white, wood tones and tile that appears throughout the space via really beautiful, ornate tiling. 

Again, allowing room for the space to help guide the visual decisions was important.

What's the inspiration behind the splatter paint design and fine lines on the packaging?

The splatter, on both the small and large packages, was meant to be reminiscent of old enamel camping mugs – something that felt very warm, cozy, friendly, familiar, approachable, yet refined. The linework on the large package was done using the same technique as the mark, just exploring it as a pattern element.  The proportions on it are derived from the wainscoting that's in the cafe, so again, trying to tie in the space as much as possible.

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