Case Studies

Frank Restaurant Branding


Designer: Christian Helms
Partners: Geoff Peveto & Daniel Northcutt


Communication Arts Design Annual
Communication Arts Typography Annual
Print Regional Design Annual
Brand New Awards
Austin Advertising Federation Gold Addys

Getting serious about having fun. With hot dogs.

Frank began with an idea: what if we took a traditionally ordinary food, and transformed it into an extraordinary experience?

With limited resources and an unfamiliar concept, the need for both visibility and clarity was huge. The solution was to build a bold brand with a unique personality that grabs the attention of both design-savvy locals and massive national brands, and entice them to come play with a small restaurant in Austin.

Brand Packaging & Proprietary Glassware

Every item and touchpoint at Frank is an opportunity to engage and delight customers while sharing the brand’s message and personality.

Small beginnings & big ideas.

In 2008, Geoff Peveto and Daniel Northcutt noticed that there was nowhere in Austin to get a really great hot dog. What started as a conversation over beers grew into a unique restaurant concept. Their vision was a neighborhood place where you could grab a chili dog and a Lone Star, or get adventurous with a craft cocktail and custom-smoked game sausage topped with anything from cheese pairings to house-made compotes and sauces. They tapped Workshop founder Christian Helms as a partner to help build the vision of the brand, and to create the type of local business that makes Austin special. The idea soon broadened into a celebration of southern and regional traditions, with hot dogs and sausages as the vehicle.

As the concept grew, so did the need to clearly define Frank’s unconventional offering for the public. Without the resources for widespread advertising, the building itself became a canvas for communication. The brand is uniquely touchable – funky mustard and ketchup colors, big-talking typography, bold textures and messaging served as a key driver of the lighthearted, playful identity. The craftsmanship of each reflects the quality of the food itself.

Exterior Environmental Signage

The menu at Frank isn’t subtle, and neither is the brand language and signage. Since we were introducing an unfamiliar concept to the city, we saw a need for communicating the restaurant’s offering loud and proud to anyone and everyone in the neighborhood.

As fun and familiar as a ballpark frank.

Frank is about sharing diverse foods that we love from across the country, and the interior of the space echoes that approach. The environment sets out to feel comfortable and entertaining; not polished or pretentious. A combination of re-purposed architectural items, vintage elements and witty brand communication sets a relaxed tone for diners, and creates a space that they can make their own. A typical lunch at Frank hosts everyone from senators hipsters, and service workers to musicians and moms and kids.

Interior Environment Details

Our process was highly collaborative, and often involved working on-site to evaluate opportunities for color and materials to shine. Working with local craftsmen to paint, build and even sew, design elements and murals were integrated into the environment. Their unique touches infuse personality into the building. The eclectic palette of material and architectural details offer an environment that is completely unique yet inviting.

Brand personality: the delight is in the details.

Frank is serious business, but at the end of the day hot dogs are fun.

We see the experience as an opportunity to make someone feel like a kid again— so a goal is to foster fun with every element of the restaurant, from the environment down to how the kitchen names the weekly specials. From business cards to take-out packaging, every touch point is an opportunity to engage and delight diners.

Seeing customers laugh and take pictures of both the walls and their plates is an unmistakable sign of success. It’s the type of place that folks just want to share.

Brand Collateral and Merchandise

We strove to build an identity with a bold personality, and to create a culture that the community could own. When people love something, they want to take a bit of it home with them or show it off. We built a broad system of brand merchandise for customers, and even created a mysterious militia that fans could join.

No opportunity missed.

The brand uses typographic textures, color and pattern to deliver messaging. A diverse palette of icons, phrasing and materials creates a system with personality and enough versatility to scale across different media and environmental configurations.

Big exposure for little wieners.

International brands ask the small dog if they can play, too.

We took a collaborative approach to implementing the brand’s bold graphic language across every aspect of the restaurant, creating an atmosphere and experience that resonated far beyond local diners. Countless television and magazine features followed, and even big brands took notice. Both Kraft and Google reached out to align themselves with Frank, with national media buys resulting in an audience of millions for a small but spirited local brand.

“Christian took our southern roots, the all-American spirit of the hot dog and our love for everything from coffee to cocktails and made it fit seamlessly into a smart package.

He channeled our passion into something people can feel, and it’s propelled us outside of the Austin market and onto the national stage and beyond.” 

Daniel Northcutt, Co-Owner and Operator of Frank
Helms Workshop®