Branding The Little Club: A Lighthearted Approach to Seriously Good Wine

Because so much of the brand and strategy work we do at Block Club serves professional service and nonprofit clients, a vast majority of which isn’t consumer-facing, I relish the opportunity to work on consumer-facing brands—particularly restaurant and hospitality projects that people all over our city and region interact with.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen an influx of restaurants, bars, cafes, and hotels opening in Buffalo that are delivering at the level of quality that we had for too long only expected from larger cities. These brands are upping the ante, so to speak. No longer do we have to go to New York, Chicago, LA, etc. to experience innovative, high-quality, interesting food and drink. These brands are helping to change perceptions of Buffalo for residents and outsiders alike.

We’ve been fortunate to collaborate with and develop a number of brands that are leading the charge: Big Ditch Brewing Company, Tommyrotter Distillery, The Black Sheep, Public Espresso, The Grange, and Hotel Henry, just to name a few. These are hospitality businesses that are bringing world-class offerings to Buffalo.

Tommy and Mary Lombardo of Ristorante Lombardo and their team just opened a new spot that I’m certain will be yet another gamechanger for our city. While natural wines have been blowing up around the rest of the country (and the world, for that matter), they’ve been difficult to come by locally. For years, Tommy’s been looking for the right opportunity to open a wine bar that focuses on interesting, indie winemakers practicing natural as well as traditional methods. That opportunity finally came about earlier this year. Having worked with Tommy and his father to refresh the Ristorante Lombardo brand a few years back, we were excited when Tommy approached Block Club to brand his new bar, The Little Club.

Wine can be intimidating, and that presented a challenge for the new brand: how to not alienate novices as you introduce them to lesser-known varietals, winemakers, production methods, and terminology while still managing to appeal to connoisseurs.

As we embarked on this project, Tommy and Mary understood that sharing their passion and knowledge of wine in an approachable way would be crucial, and so it was an overarching consideration in everything we created.

We worked closely with Tommy, Mary, and Candice Urban-Green of Boxcraft Studio (shout-out for their beautiful work on the interior!) to ensure nothing about The Little Club suggests that it’s stuffy or takes itself too seriously. The logo features lettering with a hand touch, and we employ iridescent foils, pastel papers, and playful continuous line illustrations throughout brand collateral. On menus, friendly, lighthearted language and callouts encourage patrons to be adventurous and engage with service for recommendations. It all comes together to form a super fun, unpretentious, and—most importantly—sociable and welcoming visual identity.

I think The Little Club is going to do for wine in Buffalo what Vera did for cocktails. Let’s usher in a new era of natural wine in Buffalo!

Ready for better? We can help.