Case studies


Caribou Coffee Rebrand


This project was a semester long project completed in 4th year, first semester of the Graphic Design for Marketing program at the Wilson School of Design at KPU. In order to compete with large chains such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts I decided to rebrand Caribou Coffee to express the high level of quality they offer in their products as well as their excellent reputation for service. I was inspired by the story behind the origins of Caribou Coffee which lead me to focus on the concept of "elevation" not only in regards to altitude but also as an aspect of advancement or upgrade.


We were assigned the task to select an existing company/ institution/ organization which is in need of a rebrand to successfully communicate with its target audience. The rebrand must also be realistic for the chosen situation, acting as if this was a real-life project. The deliverables for this project included a design brief, a new logo/ brand strategy, a graphic standard manual, and a sufficient number of applications of our choosing on which the new branding is applied.


From my research I learned that though Caribou Coffee was once one of the largest coffee shop chains in America and had multiple international locations, many of these are being closed or converted into Peet's Coffee shops. This was a signal to me that a change was needed to help Caribou Coffee retain its reputation for the high quality of products and service they offer.


My strategy began with the I decision to re-position Caribou Coffee as a quality coffee roaster in a way that will appeal to coffee lovers who are looking for great products and atmosphere.

Caribou Coffee will focus on the quality of its products and the expertise of its staff while appealing to a more upscale market. They will continue to serve their beloved coffee and tea products while excluding trendy high-sugar drinks that are more chemicals than coffee/tea.

In order to appeal to this new target market I wanted to avoid the typical coffee chain look and position them as more of a “craft” brewer of high quality coffee and tea.


During a trip to Alaska the founders had an enlightening moment at the top of Sable Mountain. After a strenuous hike they reached the summit and were rewarded with a stunning view of the Alaskan wilderness which solidified their opinion that "excellence is a product of hard work". This experience is where I found my inspiration for the new look of Caribou Coffee.

The new logo has been simplified from their current one, where I chose to let the type do the talking. This wordmark is somewhat retro with a rustic aspect to it which I believe communicates the new positioning of the brand well. I decided to include the use of the shield graphic from the original logo and to also add a hoof print component to be used as a secondary visual. I also created a pattern from the topographic map of Sable Mountain and the surrounding area which serves as a visual language.

As elevation is crucial in the growing process of coffee beans and is relevant in the story behind Caribou Coffee, I wanted to run with this and express it in more aspects of the brand. The new company motto/ tagline is "Hold Your Coffee to a Higher Standard" which not only expresses the quality behind Caribou Coffee, but also serves to differentiate their product from that of their competitors.  


In retrospect I believe it unnecessary to include the secondary logo (with the shield graphic) as I believe it to be better left as a simple wordmark with the shield used as a supporting component. I also might consider changing my font choices if I were to revisit this project as I have since acquired more knowledge on typography in the current Advanced Typography course I am enrolled in.


I began my process by creating an inspirational moodboard which communicated the new positioning strategy for Caribou Coffee. I also considered which elements from the original brand I would like to highlight or not use moving forward based on the new target market and positioning. I then moved on to logo ideation where I sketched thumbnail concepts which I then translated digitally. 

This project included a submission of a proposed final logo from which we received feedback. After this feedback I realized my first iteration was much too complex and needed to be reconsidered.

For the brand standards booklet, website, and packaging I started with simple sketches of layout ideas with most of my work taking place digitally. 

*This is simply a sampling of my process as I chose to feature only a select number of process pieces.


Honorable Mention for Print Design in the 2018 Salazar Student Awards