Starbucks’ Pas De Deux
Starbucks is beginning to roll out La Boulange themed bakery items.
Though it’s true that at Barc, we like to partake in our daily SF certified local hipster coffee shops for pastries and coffee, we don’t hate on our local Starbucks during a pinch. Walking in to the location on Clay and Sansome to grab a quick drink and snack, one of our Barc’ers noticed that Starbucks is beginning to roll out La Boulange themed bakery items.
During the summer of 2012, Starbucks purchased the small Bay Area bakery chain, La Boulange in a $100million dollar deal with the vision of elevating the brand by incorporating a higher level of quality to Starbucks’ offering of baked goods. When we quizzed an employee if this was a national rollout, she informed us that it was still “In testing”. “If it does well here (San Francisco), then it will go national”, which is pretty much in-line with reports of Starbucks/ La Boulange integration happening earlier than planned.
”How do we (brands/companies) retain core values and quality of product once it goes global?”
When it was announced that mega-corp Starbucks was looking to purchase La Boulange, the news had been met with great hesitation from fans of the specialty chain. Many San Francisco natives feel that the merger is “beginning of the end” for the small bakery that was considered a local gem—with worries centered around the loss of quality in the face of mass production.
Our opinion on the matter?: This is Starbucks. So much thought and planning goes into their business strategy- and it’s successful. Obviously, as they continue to be a global giant in the coffee industry. It’s success is almost assured. It’s an understandably smart move that locals will (grudgingly) accept it so long as it’s truly integration vs. brand domination. It’s an interesting case of “How do we (brands/companies) retain core values and quality of product once it goes global?” Only time will tell how this will pan out.
Image Courtesy of Starbucks
It was an amazing day yesterday as visitors poured in from all over to watch the GIANT's victory parade
It was an amazing day yesterday as visitors poured in from all over to watch the GIANT’s victory parade and we were thrilled to be a part of the action! It also was a great day for public transportation as BART reported a ridership record of 553,016* Whether you were a die-hard sportsfan or morning commuter heading into the city for work, it was nearly impossible to ignore the electricity and excitement in the air as the parade traveled its route on Market Street. Congratulations on another epic victory, Giants— just another reason why we love living in SF!
*figure courtesy of the SF Gate
We <3 Shiny Objects
Watch out Pinterest, there's a new kid squirrel on the block and its name is LoveIt! Check out our interview with the LoveIt team.
Watch out Pinterest, there’s a new
kid squirrel on the block and its name is LoveIt! The social discovery application launched publicly yesterday after several weeks of private beta testing via Klout. Since then, LoveIt’s been picking up quite a following via Twitter. One of the things that caught our eye about LoveIt is the mass appeal— the application is geared towards a larger audience and brings a fresh perspective to those who think that discovery boards are nothing but endless pictures of wedding dresses and shoes. We had the chance to interview LoveIt’s Kat Garcia, who talks about how it will stack up against the competition, what makes it so special, and most importantly— what’s the story behind the squirrel?
Barc: Thanks for taking the time to interview with us today! We’ve been hearing a bit about LoveIt via Klout and the Twitterverse- can you tell us more about what LoveIt is?
LoveIt: Thanks for your interest in LoveIt! We’re always happy to talk to our community. We’ve been actively listening and responding to everyone who joined LoveIt during our brief Klout Perk. LoveIt is a visual curation and social sharing platform. In plain English, it’s a site for individuals and groups to discover, collect, organize and share photos they love in public OR private collections.
Barc: There are a few similar sites popping up right now on the online pinboard trend- what might we be able to anticipate from LoveIt that sets it apart from the competition?
LoveIt: We’ve developed several tools that set us apart in discovery, organization and collaboration. I’ve separated them out so it’s easy to see:
· Discovery: LoveIt connects users with their friends as well as with people who share similar visual tastes. LoveIt also helps users discover influencers, brands, websites, RSS feeds and blogs that have content related to what the user loves. LoveIt takes things one step further by showing users the original content source and allowing them to directly follow that source with a single click. The company’s patent-pending image recommendation engine consistently identifies and shares new compelling images to provide a more engaging and dynamic user experience.
· Easy Organization: Users can set up private collections, public collections and favorites to easily find images they like. The order of collections can be easily rearranged and images can be reorganized between collections by using convenient and intuitive drag-and-drop tools.
· Collaboration: Users can interact with other people in the LoveIt community to create a variety of collections from chic fashion to quirky art, tasty recipes to dream vacations, geeky gadgets to hot cars and anything else they choose. The private collection feature also makes it easy for multiple people to collaborate on professional work projects or for groups to plan special personal events.
Barc: Speaking of points of difference, one immediate thing we noticed was the logo. Being in the creative industry, we can definitely appreciate good branding and marketing tactics— what’s the story behind the squirrel?
LoveIt: LoveIt is all about discovering, collecting, organizing, collaborating on and sharing all of the things you love. We thought a squirrel embodied that perfectly. They run around, love collecting acorns, finding places to put everything they collect, and if you see one squirrel another one is bound to be nearby.
Barc: Something appealing about LoveIt is that it’s currently very consumer driven in its beta- understandably, you want to leave the door open to carve out a space for brand boards as well- how do you forsee brand interaction evolving via LoveIt?
LoveIt: Our Co-Founders did some informal research and discovered that people really do like interacting with brands, especially the brands that are becoming more human and engaging. We are actively listening to our community and although we have a product roadmap in place, we’re keeping it flexible so we can quickly innovate and build the most in-demand features that they want to use. We will let our community tell us how they want (or don’t want) to interact with brands and we’ll build the tools that make the most sense.
Barc: One of the interesting things about the upcoming launch is the amount of user-testing and publicity LoveIt’s been gaining through sites like KLOUT and Twitter- it seems like users are being given the opportunity to deliver large amounts of input and feedback, which we think is brilliant- what kind of reactions have you been receiving through beta so far and how is it shaping LoveIt’s development?
LoveIt: Thanks! We’ve heard and have been responding to the good, the bad and the ugly. Many times we’ve been able to turn neutral (and even some of the negatives) into positives simply by direct engagement and talking to them. With this direct communication, we’re asking our community what they’d like to see us build which will affect the order of priorities for us here so we can create the best user experience possible.
Barc: Where does the team at LoveIt see the future of Social interest boards heading?
LoveIt: This is the beginning of the next evolution of social discovery and HOW people search online via images rather than simple text searching.
Barc: Finally, does the LoveIt Squirrel have a name?
LoveIt: Inquiring minds want to know! We’ve had some really fun conversations about it in the office and will officially “introduce”the squirrel soon.
Barc: Thanks again, LoveIt, for taking the time to answer, and congrats on the official launch!
Enjoying the fruits of his fruit
To say that the founding partner and CEO of Barc, John Randazzo, enjoys wine might be a bit of an understatement.
To say that the founding partner and CEO of Barc, John Randazzo, enjoys wine might be a bit of an understatement. John “Sr.” has been growing grapes and making wine from his hobby vineyard in Sonoma Valley since 2006. Recently, his 2009 “Villa Randazzo” Cabernet won a Gold Medal at the annual Sonoma Home Winemakers competition. “It’s nice to be recognized for your efforts, but the best part is, it’s actually an enjoyable wine. I can’t say that about every vintage,” he says. John says the secret to his success is simple. It’s even printed on his label: “Certified Non-Organic… I hate weeds…”
Top Trends from NRA 2012
The NRA (National Restaurant Association) just wrapped up and we were excited to see the top three trends coming out of the show.
The NRA (National Restaurant Association) just wrapped up and we were excited to see the top three trends coming out of the show. First up is Food Trucks which are popping up all over the country. Consumers are getting accustomed to using social media, mainly Twitter, to find their local trucks and visit on a regular basis.
The next trend, which is quickly becoming a standard way of life for many, is gluten free food products. Many brands are starting to offer a gluten free product in their line up or highlighting the fact that their product may already be gluten free. Since this dietary change is something millions of consumers are making, this is a wise decision by many brands.
The last trend, and maybe the most fun trend, is wine served in a variety of different ways to consumers. Wine is becoming an accessible drink for many consumers. Ready To Drink packaging is a way to increase usage occasions and offer consumers wine as an easy drink to bring with you rather than something to only have at home or in a restaurant.
You can read all about it, here.
To Design or “Undesign” that is the question
As seasoned designers and art directors, we like to think that here at Barc we practice the art of “Less is more”.
As seasoned designers and art directors, we like to think that here at Barc we practice the art of “Less is more”. Even though the phrase stems from a founder of modern architecture, it carries over into many visual communication disciplines and fields, including graphic design, advertising and marketing. Obviously some designers and agencies have pushed this idea to the point where some of us don’t really get it, but perhaps that was the point. Maybe that piece of creative was designed to just get your attention and puncture a breathing hole in the urban wall of clutter. Since that wall of clutter has expanded into an online world of muddle, designers and creative gurus alike are taking yet another look at simplifying things.
When it comes to web design or social media, how can we make an impact in a forum where clients don’t necessarily need a professional to design a site or page in this era of DIY? As strategic thinkers, it’s especially important that we pose questions for ourselves and for our clients that challenge us to think about the objective of the website or page first and foremost, and secondly, whether it can it be achieved in a minimalist fashion in order to cut through the clutter.
The below article focuses on portfolio websites, however, we think that the concept of “Undesign” should be considered for all facets of visual communications. And why stop there? Maybe we should go deeper and see how our own lifestyles could benefit from taking a breather, finding space and clarity, and keeping things simple.