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Designing a Social Hub For a Small Town

Main Street Bakehouse

Main Street Bakehouse

In 2015, a group of like-minded friends living in the suburban village of Stouffville, Ontario made the decision to go into business together and open a bakeshop.

As an increasing number of chain restaurants and franchises were popping up, they had a dream to see a space at the heart of main street where great food made by real people and the power of shared conversation could remain the spirit of this rapidly growing community. The venture, Main Street Bakehouse, was going to be a little slice of urban on the town’s most historic strip.

While the construction crew was busy converting an old bagel shop into the future bakehouse, one of the owners reached out to Renga’s founder Jared Henriques to talk about their shared love of coffee, brand aesthetics, and the need for a logo that would capture the heart of their vision for the town.

The Strategy

Creating a brand aesthetic that would help make their dream into reality was going to be a challenge. It would need to effectively balance the urban vibe with the small town history and establish itself as a fixture in the future plans for main street. The founders wanted to establish a main street presence where commuters could grab a coffee and a muffin in the morning on their way to a train, and then pick up a pie or loaf of bread for dinner on the way home. During the day it would also be a hub for local meetings and conversations.

Before we began to design the logo and visual elements we wanted an idea for how the bakeshop itself would look so we could create a consistent aesthetic. We did a little image gathering as a discovery process to ensure we were all on the same page.

The Name

Originally, the bakehouse was going to be called Champion Bakehouse, named after the baker. However, this attached the brand to a single person rather than reflecting the communal space that they were wanting to create.

We began to explore some alternative names and near the top of the list was Main Street Bakehouse, whose simplicity and timelessness seemed to really capture the vision of creating a permanent presence in the town for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Early Logo Concepts

We started our design process by playing with the different ways that type might visualize the business. At this point, we were still uncertain whether it was Main Street or Bakehouse that would be our focus. We explored both to see what would feel more natural.

With Main Street, the image of a street sign led to several interesting concepts. We enjoyed the way a few of these turned out, but none of them really stood out to us as the one. They caught the street part of the vision, but didn’t sell the environment inside of the bakehouse.

With Bakehouse, we had some fun with the artisan nature of baking as inspiration and started to try out some freehand sketches. Words like warmth, bread, and handmade really stood out. We also began to visualize a large window decal that could be seen from the outside but act as an invitation to what was going on inside. This felt more welcoming than a sign and really led our process moving forward. Many of the concepts we created from here were larger forms, meant to create a badge-like impression, the sort of thing that would work well on a window or attached to a brown paper bag.

One of the few remaining landmarks in Stouffville is the clocktower, which stands on Main Street near where the centre of town once was. At one point, it was the hub of all social and commercial activity. We decided to try out the clocktower in another series of design concepts as a way of trying to establish that sense of permanence and social connectivity.

The Final Design

In the end, the clocktower made the most sense, as it captured their vision for the bakehouse as the heart of Main Street. The owners wanted to create a place that would become a part of what the town was known for, and the clocktower really spoke to that. We also continued with the black and white as a way of retaining the chalkboard look, something the Bakehouse incorporated into their overall aesthetic. It’s a clean design that manages to feel both fresh and classic at the same time.

When launching a new business, creating a brand identity is of utmost importance. Launching Main Street Bakehouse, our ownership team knew we needed a brand that was rooted in the history of our town and one that spoke to our physical location on Main Street. Jared & the Renga team were our only choice to lead us through the process. Their focus, attention to detail and good design made it an easy experience for all of us. We were very happy with the outcome and have since established a well loved brand on Stouffville’s Main St. We couldn’t have done it without Renga.

Iain Lovatt, co-owner of Main Street Bakehouse