“Howling at the Bean”
Established in 2016, Little Wolf is a small-batch coffee roastery and café in the coastal town of Ipswich, MA, founded by an accountant who had been roasting his own coffee at home. Named after his dog, River, who looks like a wolf, Little Wolf offers retail and wholesale coffee beans and a brick-and-mortar and mobile coffee shop operation. Little Wolf’s identity was designed by Nashville, TN-based Perky Bros.
I’m breaking a couple of my own rules for inclusion on Brand New and for this post as a Reviewed piece: 1) It’s older than one year, having launched at the end of 2016 (but the good people at Perky Bros only recently published the full case study) and 2) it’s a tiny coffee shop in a tiny town, not exactly Starbucks. By the end of the post, though, I’m sure you will not have minded. Also, one good thing of it being a year old is that their Instagram account is full of great (real, non-prototype, non-render) applications… plus, more pictures of River.
The design’s inspiration is one part science and two parts storybook. The system showcases a methodical, yet quirky typographic system and a restrained icy blue color palette reminiscent of the eyes of a newborn wolf pup. Our protagonist River can be found playfully illustrated throughout the identity as the loyal shopkeep–reminding everyone that specialty coffee shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
The old logo had a naive quality that made it a little endearing but, by all standards, it was not good, especially not the “W” spawning a wolf. The new logo is made up of a lovely and quirky serif wordmark and a bookish illustration of River wearing a monocle, as dogs do. Other than the blue color, there is no real visual relationship between wordmark and icon and although they never appear as a lock-up there is a slight disconnect between the two, a sentiment that’s easy to overlook because both elements are awesome on their own. The wordmark works a lot better with the other River illustrations (below) that have a looser line. In application, however, the main icon looks great on every surface.
The illustrations offer a great twist on the monoweight, thin line illustration trend by adding a thick-marker shading technique that adds a lovely and novel texture.
The logo is complemented by Maison Regular in application, adding a touch of contemporary-ness, and also by a pattern of abstract little wolf hair, adding a touch of quirkyness.
Like the old logo, the old packaging was cute in its homegrown aesthetic but the new packaging is stunning and all the attention to detail is impressive, with no facet of the bag left unattended — wolf hair pattern lining? Killer. “Sit” on the bottom of the bag? Baller. And the colored stickers, for the coffee variety, sticking out with the icon at the top are fantastic, not to mention functional by allowing Little Wolf to print thousands of the same bag and customizing only the stickers.
Overall, this is simply joyful and endearing as well as being expertly crafted at every turn, including the blue tennis ball promo!