CGICA | 良品 – Make Good Brands

AkaOni

A journey of sake & stories

Type of Work Restaurant

Client Aka Oni

Year 2021

Website akaoni.ca

AkaOni is a popular izakaya that caters to young people who enjoy a fun and lively atmosphere. The restaurant offers a wide variety of sake, as well as delicious Japanese cuisine.

The story begins in 2015 when the young owner, Chris, approached us with the idea of creating a fun izakaya, a gathering place for young people called “AkaOni” (Red Demon). He shared the well-known Japanese folklore of AkaOni, symbolizing the importance of friendship and camaraderie. Inspired by this tale, we developed a cartoon-style AkaOni logo based on traditional Japanese imagery.

Five years later, AkaOni had become a popular spot for young people to drink and socialize, and Chris had fulfilled his wish of making many friends who shared his passion for drinks, food, and storytelling. When he approached us again, he was preparing for his second location and wanted to elevate the brand, offering customers an enhanced sake experience, a better gathering space, and more refined cuisine. It was like a showcase of his five years of dedication and growth.

The main challenge was to make AkaOni reflect Chris’s growth and expertise in the sake industry. This meant creating a new brand identity that would appeal to a more sophisticated audience while still maintaining the fun and playful spirit of the original brand.

To address this challenge, we focused on the human element of the brand. Through conversations, we discovered that Chris had become a sake expert, earning a sake sommelier certification. His passion had evolved into expertise, and he possessed extensive knowledge of sake types, flavors, origins, processes, and tasting methods, making him a true “sake encyclopedia.”

We decided to elevate AkaOni’s brand to new heights. Even a small izakaya should have a unique and compelling brand proposition. We aimed to position AkaOni as “the izakaya with the largest collection of sake and sake varieties in Canada.”

We enriched the AkaOni character, transforming the folklore into a brand story and personifying the demon to make it more lively and relatable. We gathered various images and symbols representing Japan, izakaya culture, and traditional culture, associating and filtering them to create a cohesive visual identity.

The rebranding focused on inheriting and amplifying existing brand assets. We retained the original manga style, brushstrokes, and colors, expanding upon the AkaOni story.

Logo

The logo remained unchanged, with only minor adjustments to the text structure to accommodate different languages.

Slogan

“See You Tonight.”

AkaOni, like the mythical creature, typically appears at night, mirroring our preference for visiting izakaya for drinks. Thus, we chose the slogan “See You Tonight.” It aligns with AkaOni’s tone and voice and serves as a common phrase for inviting friends to dine and drink, making it easily memorable and repeatable.

Graphics

To enrich the AkaOni story, our designers created additional illustrations, adding depth and flexibility to the brand’s visual communication. We even designed a “Blue Demon” character as AkaOni’s “pet,” ensuring they remain lifelong friends, unlike the original folklore.

This rebranding journey was a delightful experience, like giving the AkaOni story a new continuation. The story of AkaOni will continue, and Chris will meet more friends here. AkaOni has the drinks, do you have a story? See You Tonight.

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