Handlebar opened in Toronto’s famously eccentric Kensington Market in Summer 2012. The bicycle-themed bar incorporated previously existing features of the space and emerged as an eclectic mix of old and new.
“We wanted a creative agency to collaborate with and guide us,” said Bruce Dawson, co-owner, Handlebar. “Open worked with us not just in the branding of Handlebar and its offerings, but also to help us create an experience and a street-level marketing campaign to target our desired clientele.”
To design an experience that would resonate, Open created an identity using a philosophy of adaptation and alteration.
"We looked to the old to create something new," said Open Partner Christian Mathieu. "From bathroom signage to custom shots, we wanted to define the moments that create a unique bar experience."
"The logo uses a simple sans serif font with added custom elements," adds Open Partner Martin Beauvais. "Playful language and authentic Victorian imagery are overlaid with a half-tone pattern to create a modern feeling. Communication pieces also reinforce Handlebar’s spirit by referring to the history of bicycle culture Toronto has come to embrace."
Using these new elements, Open created a special draft lager, The Handlebrew. They even created Handlebar’s signature shot, The Tandem, which comes on its very own coaster built for two. There’s also a poster and a direct marketing piece, a card, which was placed in the spokes of bicycles in Toronto’s downtown core.
"At Open we are committed to contributing and working with local businesses and entrepreneurs," adds Beauvais. "Handlebar is very local, only a few blocks from our offices, and we believe it's important for Open to be involved in the creative endeavours taking place within our neighbourhood and within the city of Toronto."
Client: Rachel Conduit & Bruce Dawson, Handlebar
Creative Agency: Open
Partner, Creative: Martin Beauvais
Partner, Strategy: Christian Mathieu
Writers: Claire deMarco, Kate Thorneloe
Art Director: Jessica Carter
Project Lead: Anne Ngo