A Coffee Dreamland
Established in 2004 in the USA, Portland-based Needmore Designs may not be a familiar name to many people but you must have heard about their clients: La Marzocco, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Royal Coffee… With the same adoration for the band Guided by Voices, Kandace and Raymond Brigleb founded the studio
together and named it after their favorite band’s publishing company, Needmore Songs.
Coffee + Website = Dreamland
At that time, Raymond just left Stumptown Coffee Roasters to pursue designing full time while Kandace was just finishing up her studies in Anthropology and Linguistics. Raymond recalled, “She had decided to help me with my freelancing career and helped me actually get paid doing design work.” Since then, the coffee-obsessed web designer has gained a reputation as well as the trust and respect of a number of long-term clients.
“One of the assets that we have when we’re able to do that with a single client over many projects is that we do get a greater familiarity with the brand personality and how that translates across various artifacts,” shared Raymond. For example, Needmore has worked with La Marzocco, a world leading espresso machine maker, in many projects, ranging from website design to localized campaigns. “We’ve got to know the teams and understand the nuances of their brand,” Kandace said, “This allowed us to create websites for Home and Commercial that ended up being used worldwide, while also creating campaigns like their espresso subscriptions out of Seattle.”
It’s interesting to find a dedicated page of Coffee on Needmore’s official website. And they are not only doing web design but working across different disciplines, from branding to packaging, for coffee brands. “It’s important for people to realize that a brand isn’t simply a logo, but rather every touch point a consumer has with your brand,” stressed Kandace, “From your space to packaging to interactions.” In her view, design is one way for a brand to get its message across. “But you’ve got to be sure to know what your message is.”
For example, by working with the founder Nasser Al-Marri and a with deep understanding and exploration into Qatari culture, Needmore managed to develop a name and craft a visual identity for the new coffee concept in the Middle East: Stanza. “It’s crucial to figure out who you are and what your voice is and get that out there,” shared Kandace, “Consumers are looking for a coffee brand that aligns with their values and themselves.” In Raymond’s eye, consumers understand such values through the interaction with the staff and with the design, either the store decor or the packaging/website design, that tells them about the brand.
Focus and Challenge
If you pay attention, you will find that Needmore focuses much on website design. To Raymond, it is such a particular type of design that there is a lot that goes into it. “We enjoy it. We’re excited about (it) and we’re good at (it).”
To his partner Kandace, it is another story. She used to be a teacher. Although the work was rewarding enough, Kandace found that she could “make something that could go out into the world and be seen by as many people as had access to the Internet,” way bigger than just a classroom and lasting longer than 30 minutes. She changed her mind about which career to pursue. “That was very exciting,” she said, “And I still find myself amazed. ”
Raymond regards website design as “a rare medium that lets you teach computers how to let regular folks design within their style guide and have it just always look good”. It’s interesting that the communication built online is much more different than we are used to in print.
“There’s no equivalent to it,” he stressed, “It’s like we build a living design system that our clients can interact with and their customers can interact with.” In the world of the Internet, there is no limit and boundary in time and space when it comes to communications, especially if its ‘system’ is done correctly.
Another reason for Needmore to focus on website design particularly is that websites live, grow, and change. “Technology is changing all the time,” Kandace explained, “Ray and I are both people who like to learn new things and move forward with them. Web design is a consistent challenge for us.”
To many designers, it’s harder to fit into an existing brand system, compared to creating one from scratch. Kandace and Raymond can’t agree more. Raymond shared, “From our perspective, a lot of the times the difficulty in using an existing system is that some applications of that are radically different.”
For instance, when working with Royal Coffee to redesign their website, Needmore was challenged by the absence of original identity files. “They are a well-known brand. People love it. People know it,” explained Kandace, “But working with the files was difficult because they were copies of copies of copies.” They then suggested a brand refresh to modernize the logo and create some consistency with the letterforms. “Little by little, we identified patterns in letters that could be used to clean-up the letterforms that had got distorted over time.”The logo Needmore created not only respects the brand’s legacy but also is cleaner and more easily seen on different backgrounds.
On the website of Needmore, there is a dedicated section for blogs. Besides design works, Kandace and Raymond also produce content such as essays, tips on useful tools and design techniques, even podcasts. “A lot of what we learn is by doing research and reading things that other people tackled and posted,” Kandace shared, “Our posts are our way of giving back to the community that we’re a part of.” They believe that if they’ve struggled with something and then figured it out, someone else can be benefited and find a solution if they share.
Formula for Success
Over more than a decade, the works of Needmore speak for themselves, which have attracted many renowned lifestyle brands across the food and beverage industry. And they never stop learning, exploring, and creating. Kandace and Raymond also shared their insights about how to win over clients and help them stand out from the crowd.
Not following trends but being rooted in your own strong voice. In Kandace’s opinion, for a consumer to pick which of these roasters they’re going to go back to time and time again, they’re looking for a social alignment.
Really understand the connection the brands have with consumers. Kandace believes that understanding that particular brand’s unique voice, and then helping articulate what makes them remarkable is really important. “We come with an intimate knowledge of the industry.”
Your best customers are your existing customers. Many people are out there looking for new customers but Raymond thinks differently as many of Needmore’s clients have become long-term partners of the brand. “We go out of our way to be the people that they want to work with and that makes them look good.”
Trust matters. It’s because of the trust, honesty, and transparency between Needmore and its clients that helps the studio to grow and develop. “We are here to give the best advice possible and sometimes that means explaining why something isn’t a great idea. Our clients trust us to be honest,” Kandace continued, “We go out of our way to be transparent about costs and timeline so that our clients can trust that we’ll deliver what we promised on time and in budget.”
With a focus on solutions rather than just making something pretty, Needmore helps its clients to grow and shine through its modern, minimal yet sincere design style. Next time you come across the website of a coffee brand, take a further look as it may be the design work of Needmore.
With degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Linguistics, Co-founder Kandace Brigleb, also as producer, is keen on sifting through language and culture to unearth the heart of a brand’s story. Co-founder Raymond Brigleb is a lifelong technology geek and design nerd who has hopped trains, documented obscure operating systems, and been building websites since dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
About Needmore Designs
Over fifteen years ago, a coffee-obsessed web designer and a story-focused anthropologist met. The result is Needmore, a design studio based in Portland, Oregon. Their works range from stunning responsive websites to identity and packaging.