Searching Food for the Soul
EatOkra is a web and mobile platform that connects customers to Black-owned food experiences.
Over a 6-month period, we worked to expand EatOkra’s business strategy, design a new visual and verbal identity, provide platform design and ux recommendations, and develop a social-first commercial campaign.
Our work led to an elevated brand that layered in the rich experience of Black food, the business case EatOkra, and a strong foundation to better connect EatOkra and its community.
Animated GIF from EatOkra commercial spot of a woman helping her new neighbor locate the EatOkra app in her phone
We were introduced to the EatOkra team at a TikTok event during Advertising Week in New York City. Our founders represented one of the few Black owned creative services companies in the room, quickly affording one of EatOkra’s Advisors to connect with us. After connecting over the highs and lows of agency founder-ship, their advisor offered to introduce us to EatOkra as they were searching for an ideal partner to refresh their brand.
There was immediate synergy, however, EatOkra was hesitant to dive completely in initially. Beyond creative services they needed to nurture and manage expectations with budding partnerships with UberEats, PepsiCo, Hennessy, and more.
Knowing we were the ideal partner to help EatOkra elevate their brand story and product experience, we devised a way to give them a taste of what it would be like to truly work with us. We curated a six-hour cowering session, inclusive of a mini Ideation Lab, and a Retrospect.iv to allow them to be immersed into what made us different.
Image of a EatOkra Co-founders with their daughter
A work in progress view of our digital Ideation Lab
The mini-Ideation Lab teased how far we could push EatOkra’s creative limits as well as where they wanted to take their pre-existing partnerships. From storyboarding big ideas in under 10 minutes to hosting a session to group interviews exploring “What are the cultural challenges you want to solve right now?” and more.These compartmentalized sessions were helpful to educate and identify which aspects helped the brand stand cohesively and which dissented from the core identity.
After our in-person experience, we refined our approach for the partnership to unlock our full service capabilities. From there we assembled a complementary team of specialists from across the Black diaspora to dream and execute our collective new vision.
Having finalized the ideal scope for a six-month sprint, we met additional members of the EatOkra team, and identified what had been successful vs. unsuccessful for them in the past.
To kick off the partnership, we sought a strong understanding of their business, how they worked, and what they needed – even beyond what they’d already shared. We dedicated the first month to strictly business planning – this included stakeholder interviews to evaluate team structures and individual perspectives, educational sessions to close the awareness gap of our agency perspective and their business objectives, goal road-mapping to identify how we’d help them get to their key results, and overarching industry research.
Before providing strategic recommendations, we wanted to understand where EatOkra lies within the greater food ecosystem, also considering its unique positioning in the expansive Black food category.
This view gave us a strong understanding of the state of the food industry and public discourse, and we were ready to zoom into the perspectives of EatOkra’s users.
Figma board highlighting our visual audit and visual identity exploration for the brand refresh
A visual review of EatOkra's 2021 interface, including hero food images, food events, and list of local Black-owned eateries in the app directory
Our visual audit of other players in the food industry surfaced homogenous and dull visual expressions across a variety of food service platforms. As a Black-led (and fully Black team at that time) agency, we understood the vibrancy and dynamism of Black food. We leaned into the cultural values and truth for food across the global diaspora, and centered the ancient-yet-generationally-relevant spirit that is Black heritage.
A vision board of our EatOkra visual territories (color palettes, fonts, graphic treatments)
EatOkra’s brand needed to be fully sensory. Each color is named after a spice. We tapped the classic logo’s organic curves and used it as a frame in the world of Black food. We emphasized sizzle and pop with bold typography.
Our suite of visual identity assets across design, color, and photography
Redefining the Product Through Research and Strategy
We needed to better understand EatOkra’s existing audience to unearth potential opportunities to improve the product experience as well as to attract and retain new users. We conducted user research to gain insight from hundreds of active users and business owners. This process included survey findings, evaluating general user behavior, and understanding why they were or weren’t engaging.
To fortify the product roadmap, we sprinted on a new onboarding flow to help educate users on key features of the app as well as recommended KPIs and metrics. We also rebranded their entire digital suite of products to highlight their evaluated services and amplify an user-friendly journey.
Revised product design of EatOkra's in-app experience
The product research findings were also foundational to shape a digital-first brand campaign to center the distinct values of EatOkra’s target audience, which skewed majority women who were 35 years old+, racially diverse and residing close to urban cities. The hero spot highlighted the joy and community in discovering new Black food experiences, and the concept follows the day-in-the life of a protagonist using EO to navigate a new city.
We partnered with a Black-owned production team Black Circuit Media to bring our strategic vision to life. We also casted real Black-owned businesses as the hero of the story, both existing and potentially new customers of EatOkra, including Brooklyn Tea, Lucky's Cocktail Lounge and Gold Room Brooklyn.
Images from our commercial spot of colorful food and people dining at local Black-owned restaurants courtesy of EatOkra.
We successfully transformed the brand voice, positioning and product experience for this emerging tech company for both short-term and long-term impact. Their new brand marinated across commercial advertising and digital, and they are now even more equipped to measure future success.
We were met with great feedback and reception along the way, learning from each phase of the project through our Retrospect.iv’s and iterating on our processes.
“[We] love the work and [we're] excited to implement all you all did in the app itself!”
“It's been a joy to work with you all.”
EatOkra was our blueprint and a powerful prototype of how we can complete a full engagement spanning several capabilities. Despite being an early stage company, partnering and supporting them allow us to see in real-time the impact of measured and scaled strategic thinking. We tested and retested our process while working within our values.
We are passionate about cheering on our clients and community whether or not we're actively working with them. EatOkra is on a mission to help millions of people find community through food -- to get there, they have opened community investment opportunities via WeFunder to meet their fundraising goal. For a short time, you’ll get early access to join their mission to create a Black-owned food ecosystem, built for and powered by the community. Investments start at $100.
Image of the Retrospect and EatOkra team together