Fast food makes it convenient, quick, and cheap for billions of people to eat on the go, every day. Unfortunately, its limited menu of burgers, fried chicken, tacos, and pizzas hasn’t been so healthy for our bodies, our communities, and even our environment. We’ve lived within this system for so long, many of us just assume that fast food can’t also be healthy food—but is that right?
This on-going food fight between convenience and quality led three hungry college students in Washington, D.C. to ask themselves that question back in 2007. Nicolas Jammet, Jonathan Neman, and Nathaniel Ru bonded over their frustration at the lack of healthy food on campus. So during their senior year, they decided to open a 500 square-foot restaurant serving fresh salads made with organic produce. sweetgreen now has over 120 locations, using new technologies to re-imagine old, stale, fast casual models—and instead, serving up nutritious, great-tasting dishes with local, healthy ingredients to people every day.
When it came to fast food, Nicolas, Jonathan and Nathaniel understood the real problem was with the food, not how fast it was served. In fact, they realized that if they could pair delicious, healthy dishes people actually loved to eat with the speed and convenience of fast-food, they could improve people’s health, their communities, and the environment on a massive scale.
sweetgreen figured out the logistics necessary to create healthy fast food for the next generation. As they gained momentum, they regularly found themselves needing to create new systems, tools, and experiences to take advantage of these opportunities. That’s when they invited us to help them accelerate and grow a brand that could keep up with their ambitions.
Our challenge was this: how do we best help a company rooted in such authenticity—from the founders to the ingredients in their food—scale and expand without losing the unique qualities that made them so beloved in the first place?
How could we communicate the idea of healthy fast food to a generation that was taught to believe that eating healthily was neither easy nor delicious?
While sweetgreen has leveraged some of the more enlightened elements from the fast-casual food experience, they have become much more—a daily nutritious ritual for individuals and a meeting place for the cities, towns, and farms they bring together every day. sweetgreen has become an integral, trusted part of many communities and a welcome addition to others.
We started our work by listening to sweetgreen’s founders, teams, and fans, immersing ourselves in their world of food—one made from casual, healthy, local, seasonal, delicious, crave-worthy ingredients. We learned that their drive to create a positive impact on the future of food is fueled by a deep respect for those who grow, harvest, cook, and serve it. This is matched only by their curiosity for how they can improve the complex systems we use to eat every day.
Over the past year, we’ve been honored to work with sweetgreen’s leadership and great in-house team to develop a new brand system that allows them to better express that commitment and curiosity. Together, we’ve created a system that’s being developed across store design, signage systems, marketing, advertising, social channels, digital products, packaging, and even spiffy new team member uniforms.
sweetgreen needed a new brand idea. One built on what was most meaningful and memorable for their customers, but was also capable of evolving with them into the future. We defined an expression that embraced real ingredients, the natural cooking process, and the people behind the food. We were inspired by the craft, elegance and artistry found in hand-painted vintage cookbooks. We then created tools that pair lighthearted illustration, custom typefaces, modern photography with a palette of earthy and vivid colors. A more variable, expressive voice can now take people on a full tour throughout sweetgreen’s wider world of food.
The result? A new sweetgreen that is also the one people know and love.
- Sanuk Kim
- George Lavender
- Zuzanna Rogatty
- Tomas Markevicius
- Eric Park
- Tom Elia
- Madeleine Carrucan
- Dashiell Alison
- Ann Kim
- Antonia Lazar
- Alex Wallace
- Mari Juliano
- Min Heo
- MCKL Type
- Nathaniel Ru, Chief Brand Officer
- Thomas Wilder, Executive Creative Director
- Eric Estroff, Senior Brand Manager
- Jane Helpern, Brand Voice
- Joanna Hsu, Art Director
- sweetgreen brand studio
- Fictive Kin