Doraku

I loved working on the Doraku brand. It was a younger, hipper brand, and because there were only two locations at the time, I was allowed to be more creative, and be a little less conservative with the creative.

Anime was a big part of the early branding for Doraku. I used our iconic anime images for branding messages. For promotional pieces, which were many, I was free to use my imagination.

We used a lot of table tents and check stuffers to promote our special events, as well as business card promos, post cards and flyers.

Feeling Good

 

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I am very pleased to show my latest project, a logo design that’s got me Feeling Good. I had the good fortune to work with Romina Calvo on her very exciting new project with Judy Meana.

Feeling Good is a channel dedicated to the health and well-being created by Romina Calvo and Judy Meana where you will find the latest trends in food, health, business and entrepreneurship. Everything you need for your physical well-being, mental and social. Feelinggood.Online@Judy Meana @Romina Calvo.

What I learned from Jill Freedman

We recently celebrated Art Basel in Miami, an annual event that brings some of the most influential artists from around the world to the Magic City. You could say it’s our way of ringing in the high 70 degree temps and slightly reduced humidity we call Winter. Oh the weather outside is… perfect.

And in addition to the Art Basel events, there were countless art inspired exhibits and panels around town, one being the Miami Street Photography Festival at History Miami Museum, an international festival showcasing contemporary street and documentary photography. I visited the exhibit on Saturday, where I had the good fortune to see Jill Freedman, a legendary American photographer, speak about her work.

Photographer Jill Friedman at the Miami Street Photography Festival at History Miami Museum

The discussion began with the obligatory “what led you to photography?”
Fifteen minutes later, after describing going to college to please her mom, singing in a jazz band, learning seven guitar chords, which led her to spend six months singing in Parisian clubs, being moved by pictures in Life magazine, being called to action by the slaying of Dr. King, living in a tent in Resurrection City on the National Mall, and playing the spoons, Ms. Freedman ended her explanation by asking, “what was the question?” It was already clear what separated her from we mere shutterbugs.

Now in her 70’s, Ms. Freedman was bubbling with energy and personality. She would periodically stand to look at her photos projected on the wall behind her, and would name the police officers, firefighters, civil rights activists and circus performers in the photos she’d taken, some as long as 35 years ago. She railed against the injustices she see around us today. And she played the spoons… seriously.

What was so clear about Ms. Freedman is that she doesn’t love photography. She loves places and people and causes. She loves experiences, and she’s had more than a lifetime’s worth. And she happened to get some great shots along the way. I’d say she’s in love with life, and she’s had a long, steamy affair with photography. Do yourself a favor and check out her incredible work at www.jillfreedman.com.

Now, I don’t mean to get all lovey-dovey, but maybe it helps to get all lovey-dovey. It seems to be a trait consistent to the most successful, most influential artists and business people. They don’t love what they do, they love who they are and they do what they do. AND it looks like it feels pretty great.

So after hearing Ms. Freedman’s story, I left feeling inspired, not to work harder, but rather to make sure I’m having fun, having great experiences, and working. Seems simple, and obvious, until you see someone whose actually doing it, and you realize that you’re not.

I hope you are. And if you’re not, I wish some lovey-dovey for you this holiday season. Merry Basel to all, and to all a good night.

Arigato

 

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Full-page Chicago Sun Times ad announcing the closing of the Benihana Chicago location.

In 2007 I was asked to design a full page ad for the Chicago Sun Times announcing the closing of the Benihana Chicago location with a very short turnaround time. The concept, imagery and copy was left up to me, and thankfully in one of those rare light bulb moments, I conceived of the Arigato ad as it was ultimately published.

With the help of a Sun Times photographer, we staged the chefs of the Chicago store in front of the restaurant, as I semi art directed via cell phone from Miami. The chefs are posed in the traditional bow, which is how every Benihana chef concludes their performance. With a little photoshop magic, I removed the cityscape and placed our chefs in a stark white studio setting.

arigato-footer4The copy focussed on thanking the Chicago patrons, at the request of the CEO. In smaller copy below the chefs, we set the stage for a store opening at a new location.

Although the ad was a one time run, the Arigato chefs became a main Benihana branding image, and is still used today at the foot of their bi-monthly newsletter, and is still paired with the tag, “It is our honor to serve you.”

 

Marketing

At Benihana, I worked closely with the Vice President of Marketing and the Director of Marketing in the planning, development and implementation of all of the organization’s marketing strategies, marketing communications, and public relations activities, as well as oversaw the development and implementation of marketing and promotions support materials, both internal and external.

Below are a few samples of my favorite projects and initiatives. Please click on the image to get the story behind the project.

The Chef’s Table

The Chef's Table
The Chef’s Table Loyalty Program

The Chef’s Table is the Benihana Customer Loyalty and Rewards Club, implemented as a part of the Benihana Renewal Program. I designed the logo and all branding and design aspects of the program, including print, in-store and online promotion and The Chef’s Table newsletter. Click here to read more.

 

The Benihana Kids’ Menu

I was thrilled to have an opportunity to redesign the Benihana Kids’ Menu in 2009. Kids are not just the most enthusiastic Benihana fans, but they’re also a major motivator in driving customer visits and loyalty. With the brand being so focussed on the experience, I thought we needed to add to their experience as well. Click here to read more.

 

Be The Chef

Benihana has always been about having an experience that nobody else can offer. We decided to offer guests an even more memorable experience by letting them don the red chef’s hat and take a crack at being a Benihana chef. Click here to read more.

Design

I’ve had the good fortune to work with many talented people in the Advertising and Marketing world, specifically while working with Benihana. There I got to manage the look, feel and voice of an icon brand.

I conceived, developed and executed all the advertising and promotional concepts for the Benihana and Samurai brands, and worked on the Doraku, Haru and RA Sushi brands as well.

Below are a few samples of some of the creative I’ve developed. Please click on the image to get the story behind the design. And please leave a comment to let me know what you think.

Arigato

Chicago Sun Times ad
Benihana – Chicago Sun Times full time ad announcing the closing of Benihana Chicago.

The Arigato ad was designed for a one-time ad request to announce the closing of the Benihana Chicago location. The image and copy have lived-on, and is still used in many advertising and promotional pieces. Click here to read more.

 

Benihana Branding

Benihana National Branding
Benihana National Branding

In 2007 I was given the opportunity to rebrand Benihana, developing a new national print ad design, new website and online advertising design. I also developed new copy for print, online and radio advertising. Click here to read more.

Doraku

Doraku Advertising and Promotion Design

In my first few years with Benihana, Doraku was a part of the brand portfolio. I worked on all the print advertising, all in-store touch points, and the website content and updates. Click here to read more.

 

Benihana Menu Fleet

Benihana Menu Fleet

In 2009, as part of the Benihana Renewal Program, I redesigned the Benihana menu fleet, including the Dinner and Sushi menus, the Happy Hour menus, To-Go menus, Delivery menus, and we created Special Occasion menus and the Express Lunch menus.

 

Outdoor Advertising

Benihana Las Vegas Bus Wrap
Benihana Outdoor Advertising

I designed all Benihana outdoor advertising, which included Billboard branding and promotional creative, as well as Bus Wrap advertising. The design above was used to wrap a Las Vegas city bus to promote the Benihana in the Las Vegas Hilton.

 

The Kabuki Kids Program

Kabuki Cup
Benihana – Kabuki Kids Club

I developed the logo and branding for the Kabuki Kids Program, which included the Kabuki Kids’ menu, the Kabuki Cup, a direct-mail piece and more. Click here to read more.