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Branding & Website

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Signage & Wayfinding
Custom Typography
Brand Merchandise & Apparel
Collateral Design
Logos, Iconography & Illustration
Environment Consultation & Design
Website Design & Development
Brand Messaging
Packaging System
Identity System


Designer: Christian Helms
Partners: Geoff Peveto & Daniel Northcutt


Communication Arts Design Annual 2010
Brand New Awards 2011
Communication Arts Typography Annual 2012
PRINT Regional Design Annual
American Advertising Awards Austin Gold ADDY

The Story

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.

Small beginnings and big ideas.

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

Frank is a neighborhood joint where you can 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. The unique, quirky concept is 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.

The delight is in the details.

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.

Frank’s menu pulls influences from across the country, and the interior of the space echoes that approach. A combination of repurposed architectural items, vintage ephemera 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 to hipsters, and service workers to musicians.

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 touchpoint is an opportunity to engage and delight diners. Big exposure for little wieners.

International brands ask the small dog if they can play, too. We took a collaborative approach to implement 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.

Helms Workshop®