How to Brand A New Business: A Case Study of The Haunted Game Cafe from Business Launch Through Year Five
The Haunted Game Cafe is a really creative board game store and coffee house, begun in Fort Collins, Colorado, in Fall 2009. What makes it unique is the decor, and the open tables where people gather to play boardgames, their own, or any from a wide selection from an Open Game Library.
The theme is spooky, vintage Victorian, not Halloween, gory, nor bloody. It includes wall stencils, and fun color mixes. For instance, the walls are dark purple. Other walls are a mix of dark purple, red and blue, with gold stencils overlaid. Some ceiling tiles are a dark orange brass for molded ceiling tiles.
The original logo work was begun with other agencies, and that’s how the coffee cup in the web logo came into being.
The store owner contacted Dan Seese Studios to create a spectacular exterior sign. Together they created the sign with the bat wing shape, and gilded lettering. The store font is similar to Hightower. We took this font to create the window sign later.
So future graphic design and branding work had to fit with the existing branding and the owners’ direction. We designed and created a “Ghosts Wanted” large banner sign to gather interest before opening.. The scroll work, spiderweb and bat shape was created using Adobe Illustrator. The bat shape was modeled over a real bat wing, from a photograph found on the internet, and then duplicated to make it a full image from left to right. The bat was merged with a black rectangle for the sign middle.
We created a 3-fold, 2-sided business marketing flyer with a dark blue background to give it a spooky feel, plus Victorian art details like these scroll-work photo corners, and dividers. We used Yataghan font on the photo descriptions and titles, matching fonts that were in use in-house. Hightower font in regular and italic was used to resemble the exterior sign, whose font was in outline. The teal is made to resemble the aged copper from the exterior sign. The flyer was printed, and used on the website as a digital PDF download, in both full color, and were later modified to be black and white and 2 sided, for less expensive reproduction and easier at-home printing by customers, and again to be a one page flyer.
The graphic design for this bat-shaped board game review sign, similar to those found in bookstores.
We designed two different customer VIP cards. The first was designed using Adobe Illustrator. The bar code (printed in the bottom space), worked with the POS system to track rewards.
The second one, much more creative, was requested to resemble the old Ouija board game, supposed to contact spirit world. The font used looks like the American Old West, and indeed that was the Victorian era in America. We started with colorful coffee mug and game piece in the corner, but then muted them down to match the existing brown and black colors. We talked with the store owner about making the ink stamp (that goes over the numbers) into a “planchett”, similar to the original board game.
We have done several ads over the years from simple black and white to more elaborate color ads. These mostly appeared in high school newspapers, whose rates are more reasonable than local papers.
The bat was designed by another artist, and then painstakingly converted into a vector graphic design by us, then colored. This same art was adapted for use on the mug seen above, where the print area is quite small.
In Spring 2014, we created the graphic design, and set-up the business e-mail marketing program, using the bat wing exterior sign logo, and added spiderwebs to the outside corners. We painstakingly added all the social media marketing links to the top and bottom of the e-mail, and (similar to the flyer) added Victorian art elements as article dividers. We thought the red background made the e-mail more vibrant. (See April’s graphic design e-mail newsletter)
In early 2014 The Haunted Game Cafe sponsored Cult Movie Night at a local theatre. It was our first foray into large screen ads, with several versions to test the ads each month. We proofed that it looked good in person, by visiting.
Also in 2014, we began to trade advertising free with a local indie bookstore – Facebook mentions, event cross-promotion and bookmarks for them. We have similar customer demographics, but do not compete on products. We offered free bookmarks (seen below) to their customers with Haunted branding.
The Haunted Game Cafe sponsored local hospitals in a gaming fundraiser for four years. The event required graphic design of a large donation check, themed with ghosts & Victorian decoration in the background. The check was laminated to be usable for multiple years with a write-on/wipe-off pen.
We also created several table top signs to announce events, get social media sign-ups & reviews, and larger signs to announce new foods.
Now that you’ve read about Sproul Creative, what about your project? What can we design for you? Feel free to call me right now at (970) 988-5413, or use our handy contact form, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.