Branding Case Studies: Project Gallery
    Various Locations, Germany
    Balzac Coffee GmbH & Co. KG is a German based company with 57 stores in 18 different cities. KABC was hired by Balzac Café to redesign the chain after the company merged with World Coffee in 2011. The two companies complemented each other strategically and regionally.

    Services included formulating a brand strategy and subsequently a brand experience comprised of graphic services, signage, architectural design, and interior design. The brand concept of Balzac has been realigned with the original brand values of the founder Vanessa Kullmann. These included that each store have a unique presence, a feeling of comfort and relaxedness, a palatable soul and patina, and a sequential layering of spaces that draw people into the store.

    The new image for Balzac Coffee is Balzac Caffé – a European Café with an American Touch. The European ring of the logo depicting an angel riding a Vespa is whimsical and playful, reflecting an European sensibility of not taking yourself so seriously. This aura is enhanced by changing the name to Caffé – something more European, without breaking away from the original successful name and image.

    The refreshed values and image are also translated into the food. Items associated with a German bakery are strategically chosen over those found in average, American cafes. This change includes an upgraded offering of real bread and Torten, specialty cakes, and other home baked goods combined with fresh options that change with the seasons.

    The final major change to the brand’s strategy and image is to elevate the coffee experience from one of habit to one of ritual. The shop’s operation and architectural detailing encourage customers to become involved in the making of the coffee and develop as connoisseurs that demand knowledge of different varieties and fair trade origins.

    Combined with six months of research of current coffee shops trends in New York City, the new brand image and experiential zones reflect new consumer trends and the fundamental cores of the initial brand. The second part of KABC's services was to translate the developed brand into a series of distinct and memorable interiors.

    The Balzac Café brand and subsequent interior design have been in part developed from the types of products the stores will offer. Coffee will always be sold, while extra offerings will change based on what is popular at that particular time. Similarly to the coffee, classical furniture which evokes a timeless quality will be built into the store, while whimsical accent pieces which change with the times juxtapose the minimalist sensibility.

    Part of the brand experience of Balzac translates the brand values into a series of distinct experiential zones: the Café Bar, the Café, the Lounge, and the Library Experience. In addition the washroom experience is elevated above the typical utilitarian treatment. These guest experiences have been choreographed to evoke specific moods and provide the guest with a choice for communal or individualized areas.

    The Café Bar counter is shaped, and intended to be, like a bar counter as opposed to the typical service counter. As an element of the Balzac experience, the Café Bar is continuous, linear, and is broken up by glass vitrine units in order to act as a social zone for guests to engage the barista as if they would a bar tender. It is also to create a feeling for the guest as if being in someone’s kitchen.

    The Café is the typical associated sit-down component of a coffee shop but is envisioned to have a vintage feel with a laid-back and social ambiance. Furnishings consist of bentwood and traditional-style chairs paired with square white & round wood top tables. Built-in banquette seating is upholstered with textural vinyl’s and over scale patterns for variety.

    The Lounge experience is yet more relaxed than the Café and features comfy wingback lounge chairs and vintage leather sofas. The intent is to create the feeling of a living room or den. Found and salvaged pieces are preferred and upholstered chairs are purposely mismatched. A collage of framed wall paintings adds to the coziness.

    The Library experience is the setting for work and study, which has become quite popular across contemporary coffee shops. A library-style communal table and schoolhouse chairs create a collective workspace. Custom, distressed wood shelving units are filled with books and whimsical accents to add to the vintage atmosphere.

    The washroom experience is garden themed with a mix of natural and decorative materials. A signature wall features horticultural motifs, while washroom stalls have an ornamental wallpaper or mosaic tile pattern. The basin is treated as a featured objects either free-standing or set against a wall to center a communal space. Polished concrete, random stone tiles, and distressed wood gives the space a rustic charm, while a park bench engages waiting customers.

    LOCATION: Various Locations, Germany
    SITE AREA: Varies
    PROJECT SCOPE: Branding, Graphic Design, Signage, Interior Design
    PROJECT TYPE: Retail: Coffee Shop Chain
    CLIENT: Balzac Coffee Company
    KABC Team: Anna Klingmann, Jean Keil, Richard Abi Saab, Sarina Heres, Bless Yee