Black Walnut OKC | Branding and naming project

Lynae Hilton

Local restauranteur and chef Andrew Black presented the liquidfish team with the unique challenge of branding a triplicate of restaurants in the heart of Deep Deuce, an up-and-coming district in downtown Oklahoma City. While two of the three restaurants already had names, the real challenge came in creating a name for the third space to match his culinary vision and also capture elements of the area's history and location.

Creative Director Christopher Lee lead his three-man design team through a series of meetings and critiques starting, with most importantly, research. According to chef Andrew, the history of the restaurant space itself is rather intriguing. Previously a residential property where two homes once stood, the now-torn-down houses were repurposed to comprise the restaurant's home-like façade. The menu would be designed to match the oh-so-homie vibe inspired by tastes from chef Andrew's global culinary experiences. After a few days of research and sketching, the designers came together to review and discuss alongside liquidfish copywriter and digital strategist, Christina Lindsey.

"No one person actually hit the nail on the head singlehandedly, but once we took time to collaborate and bring our individual interpretations and perspectives together, things just sort of fell into place and the name and brand took shape," said Lindsey.

Located at the corner of NE 2nd Street and Walnut Avenue, the middleman to this trio of taste would become Black Walnut.

"Sometimes the most obvious solutions are the best," said Lee.

Partly named for the owner himself and partly by its streetside designation, this simple and straightforward solution was a winner in the eyes of the client.

The nameless space now had a name and was in need of a brand. With each designer bringing their individual styles to the table, the design team met a week or so later to review and make decisions about the branding. New to the liquidfish team, but a veteran in my field, I crafted what chef Andrew would later choose as the final logo for Black Walnut. The logo is a culmination of all of the information gathered throughout the process, and then some. Knowledge is key. The final design was exactly what I wanted it to be; abstract in nature yet clean and crisp.

The abstract walnut features one line down the center encompassed by two additional lines that create the walnut-like shape. At first glance, it's just a walnut, but once you dive further into the story and representation, it becomes so much more. The central vertical line represents Black Walnut's physical place in the center of this culinary trio, as well as its future as a place of intersection within in the community, where different groups come together over great food and drinks.

"A storyteller in his own way, Chef Andrew was thrilled with the end result, and so were we," says Lee.

The branding didn't just result in another happy liquidfish client, it also took home a Gold award at this year's Oklahoma ADDY Awards.