Creating a new category to redefine Italian food.
With the fast casual category historically not including Italian food, Etto is reshaping the category by redefining Italian street food to a new generation. Truly Deeply founder David Ansett developed the concept for Etto with Chef and business partner Stephane Meyer and engaged us to help realise a vision, shape the business and create a thriving brand-led offer aimed at a new generation with a fresh approach to ‘out of home eating’.
Whilst pasta and Italian food in general has a high degree of popularity in Australia, it has always been something eaten in a restaurant and predominantly for dinner. This somewhat formal approach to Italian food is at-odds with it’s origin. In Italy, pasta is eaten for lunch as much as for dinner, and available in a casual style on every street in every town.
This was the inspiration for Etto’s Founders with a vision to bring this spirited, casual and richly Italian style of eating to a Australia. Combined with new cooking technologies to enable their concept to produce this great food at speed and consistently, the Etto brand is all about great Italian food to fit the busy lifestyles of a new generation.
The Etto concept is based around fresh pasta, which is made every day in each pasta bar. The customer is able to choose from one of a dozen Italian sauces, which they can then match with any of the fresh pasta options. This food offer (along with pizzas and sides) is available to dine-in, take away and increasingly for delivery.
Italian food by it’s very nature is healthy and wholesome. The Etto menu is based on high quality, fresh ingredients, so that a pasta from Etto is equal to anything you might cook for yourself at home. In today’s culture of cooking less and eating well, Etto offers the best Italian you never cooked.
One of our philosophies as a branding agency is to truly immerse ourselves in our clients’ businesses in order to innately understand the most effective and powerful branding solutions. In the case of Etto, our Founder and Agency Principal; Dave Ansett, teamed up with prospective client Stephane to become both business partner and brand guide. The result has been six years of growing Etto together to be one of the countries most respected up and coming hospitality brands. In the process Dave and our agency have become respected experts on branding in the hospitality space. Dave has developed and delivers the Uber eats Restaurant Owners masterclass, sits on the Uber Eats Industry Advisory Panel, and regularly consults to businesses of all shapes and sizes across the restaurant/cafe industry.
The greatest challenge for the Etto brand was in creating a new category (fast casual Italian dining) from scratch.Whilst being the first mover in any category can provide positioning advantage in the minds of the market, it also comes with the challenge of educating the market. If we’re branding a burger concept – the whole millennial market understands the offer and the context for our point of difference. When creating a brand for an Italian food offer that isn’t a restaurant, the market starts from a point of misunderstanding.
The second challenge was that whilst Etto is an Italian pasta concept, neither of the founders were Italian themselves. Our task was to create a brand that was Italian inspired whilst remaining authentic to it’s Italian loving, but non-Italian roots.
The final challenge was to create a brand that would be able to work consistently across a chain of restaurants as the business grew, but without turning the brand into a boring, cookie cutter looking style of a typical franchise that is the antithesis of what many millennials find desirable in a restaurant brand.
Italian inspired, pasta lovers was the emotional truth that we built the brand around. The passion for Italy and Italian food that sat at the heart of the business was both authentic and relevant; two dimensions required to resonate with the millennial market.
The passion for and love of all things pasta provided the link required to connect the brand with the spirit of Italy. As an audience who loves passionate authenticity, the culture of coffee standing-up, riding vespas without helmets, drinking wine with every meal (from childhood) and talking with your hands provided a rich tapestry to weave the brand from.
With pasta at the center of the Etto offer, the concept of making the pasta fresh, each day in each pasta bar in full sight of customers became a key proof point of the brand. ‘Fresh pasta Made daily’ has become a key piece of the brand’s messaging.
Developing brand strategy for what was essentially ‘our own brand’ provided a sense of opportunity, freedom and responsibility. We began with a sharp focus on a central brand essence of; ‘fast and delicious Italian Street Food’.
Throughout history, Italian life has encapsulated the streets. of every town and city. Whether leaning over balconies to hang washing and shout to neighbors, strolling with family or romantic interests or hanging with friends and discovering independence, the streets are an indelible part of the fabric of Italian life.
Since forever eating-out in Italy has also been part of it’s street life. In fact the first Italian street hawkers in the 1700s were Maccaronaris – cooking pasta on charcoal stoves and serving it to be eaten by hand in the street. It turns-out, pasta came from a history of Italian street food that became an important layer to the brand’s strategy.
The name; ‘Etto’ itself is an Italian term for a cooking measure of around 100 grams. It’s an informal term that a nonna may use for around a handful, and captured the sense of a single serve of fresh pasta that is so unique to the Etto concept. From that starting point we built layers of brand gestures, with every part of the Etto brand experience reflecting the brand definition.
How to look Italian without coming off as cheesy or inauthentic – that was out design challenge. As is often the case, the solution was in authenticity, in looking deeper at the visual language of Italy that that used by Italian restaurants the world over. It was here we found two inspiration points; 01. the three dimensional lettering found on the external signage of restaurants and bars found everywhere in Italy, and 02. the language of street art – prevalent throughout the cities of Italy.
The Etto brand mark is a translation of the three dimensional type that is neither traditional, retro or contemporary, but has an Italian-ness that captures all three. The black and yellow lend the brand both a vibrancy and grunginess that is part of the street scene.
The secondary brand visual language has a number of layers to it, allowing for constant evolution. This is a design strategy employed by contemporary brands aimed at the millennial market to stay relevant. The ability to stay fresh by adding new layers of visual language is an important part of the brand’s design approach.
The layers of secondary brand visual language include a series of ‘street art montages’ featuring iconic images such as the statue of David, Florenc’s Duomo, a vespa and a shuttered window with pidgeon, all produced in grainy, street art black. There is also a ‘busy’ type-centric palette utilized for the menu design and a collection of ‘real life’ brand images taken from the streets of Italy.
These layers of brad imagery provided the starting point and guidelines for everything needed to bring the brand to life.
Being owners as well as the brand agency provided the opportunity to be involved at every step of bringing the brand concept to market and its ongoing evolution. This was a rare opportunity for us to face all the client challenges of a start-up with competing tensions of budget and time, as well as to be able to do everything we would wish a client to do, that is often compromised by a mindset that is not as brand oriented as our own.
We led every part of the process from the strategic positioning, brand definition, core audience definition, brand naming, product and menu development, brand identity, store design direction, packaging design, signage design, stationery and forms, menu design and environmental graphics, uniform design, marketing strategy, local area marketing, promotional campaign development and execution, web design, social media strategy and activation, brand messaging, employee brand engagement and training.
We launched Etto at the start of 2013. From the first day the brand and store design have drawn customers to the business in strong numbers. In the first months the business operated at around 200% of projections, before slowing and then slowing gaining traction as we went from education of market to growth at around the 12 month mark. Six years down the track and the brand and business has grown slowly but surely, performing as one of the strongest businesses in a category facing headwinds over the last twelve months.
Stephane Meyers, Founder and Managing Director of Etto, says; “Partnering with the Truly Deeply team has been an amazing process of realising my vision and seeing it take shape and come to life. We have had to build the business and the brand from the ground up, and developing the two parts in synergy has been a highly valuable and rewarding process.
Whilst we’ve had to be creative in our use of budget to launch Etto to market, Truly Deeply have been able to deliver an uncompromised brand experience. I truly believe we have the best brand in the market and that is a critical component of our growth strategy.
We now have a brand with a very strong level of recognition and a community of regular, loyal millennial customers who are underpinning our year-on-year growth and providing the confidence for us to open more Ettos” added Meyers.
You can visit the deliciously designed Etto web site here: etto.com.au
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