We are Usonian: Some notes on our new name and brand

A name change is a big deal for a business. So is a rebrand. But when Crane Coffee Consulting no longer fit us, we decided to take that brave step into a different future.

When you name your baby, it’s for life (or at least until they’re an adult, at which point they can legally change it). But when your baby is your business, you get a second chance if the name no longer fits. Here’s the story behind our new name—Usonian—and our new brand.

I love good design. And I love good designers. So when it was time to create a cohesive brand and single name for the variously named companies we were operating under (including Crane Coffee Consulting and Ironworks), I went looking for a local agency I felt good about. I chose Human_Code.

They pitched three different names, and I chose “Usonian” because it gave the business a lot of room to grow. It wasn’t tied to coffee—because we’ve been helping many craft breweries with their business needs. It wasn’t even tied to beverages—a plus, because our venting services are attracting attention from a number of different industries. We didn’t want to limit ourselves with reference to a geographical location either. Our customers are all over North America today. Tomorrow, who knows?

“Usonia” was a term adopted by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright to describe his affordable home concepts, which were simple but beautiful designs that honored the landscape they were built on and the natural materials used. I’m a fan of architecture. Mid-century modern is cool. Frank Lloyd Wright is the man.

But what I really liked about the name Usonian was its mystery. It felt industrial to me. Futuristic. And when I asked a friend what it meant to him, he told me the same thing. That was confirmation enough for me.

When it comes to the logo, the typeface is clean, simple and strong to reflect the strength of the business. The icon could be the ‘U’ from Usonian, a cup with steam coming off the top, a beer glass, a coffee bean or a symbolic representation of the heating and drying process of roasting.

We’re using a muted palette of blacks, greys and colors that feel like they’ve been filtered on Instagram. The brand uses naturalistic photography. Industrial scenes. And clean, simple layouts. The agency named the moodboard “industrial chic gear porn” and I was hooked.

The typeface for body copy is strong but relaxed, with the curves reflecting the icon in the logo. It looks good in print and works well on the web, too. The voice we’re using on our new website conveys approachable expertise and enthusiasm—our brand in a nutshell.

Overall, I’d say the inspiration for our new brand is Scandinavian design. Those folks have it goin’ on. They’re ahead of the curve on everything: food, beverages, architecture, sustainability. They’re masters at creating experiences that bridge nature and industry.

Scandinavian influence is everywhere in the café and microbrew industry, and we wanted our brand to feel comfortable for those audiences. Fortunately, it feels comfortable for me, too, which isn’t surprising, given that I’m a roaster at heart.

Let me know what you think of the name. What does Usonian mean to you?

For me, it's time to get back to the grind.


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