Brand Strategy, Visual Design
New York City
The evolution of New York ‘cue.
After 15 years serving authentic, American barbecue right here in New York City, Bluesmoke is taking its show on the road in a new, fast-casual format. Through a robust, ownable, and functional brand identity, we sought to capture the unique flavor of New York’s original barbecue institution while driving a broad appeal for all.
Today, with the brand’s expansion, we helped them craft a more intriguing promise: bringing Original New York Barbecue to everyone. Inspiration for the brand came from our own backyard: the sidewalks of New York City. The new logo and visual language nods to the layers of writing, graffiti, signage and stickers that line our streets—they reveal the unique identity and creativity of the people who live here. The challenge was about preserving the brand equity and recognition they’ve earned, while shaping both the brand identity and messaging with an eye towards the future.
Creative inspiration for the Bluesmoke brand identity came from our own backyard: the streets of New York City, or what we called City Sidewalk Culture. It’s the conduit that connects the resources that define Original New York Barbecue — spices from Kalustyan’s, greens from the Union Square Farmers Market. It offers efficiency and entertainment, side-by-side. It’s a place for all people, cultures, and ideas. Because while USHG is proud to take their barbecue out of New York, they’ll never take the New York out of their barbecue.
The updated logo and brand identity nods to the layers of writing, graffiti, signage, and stickers that adorn New York’s sidewalks. The Bluesmoke “sticker” system — with icons ranging from recognizable streetscape forms to the tools and tastes of barbecue — are designed to show some wear and tear, referencing the textures of both city life and the barbecue pit. We also created practical, unpretentious, but beautifully designed to-go and catering solutions that feel true to barbecue, but still celebrate the quality for which USHG is known. Updated messaging, inspired by city sidewalk sights like souvenir tees and take-out bags, also embraces a local, tongue-and-cheek attitude. Staff uniforms and collateral emblazoned with this language empowers any Bluesmoke employee, from anywhere in the country, to champion the brand’s unique New York voice.