Let’s talk about (quiet, serious voice) branding. Yes, the word alone feels like it should be said in a quiet, serious voice but here’s the thing…it doesn’t…have…to. We can be fun while we build something new—we can work with a great team, eat cheese, rejoice over language quirks together, and then yes, we can brand like it’s our job (because it is, but still).
That’s how Five Two came gliding into the world like the world’s most elegant speed skater—in a flurry of great conversations and snacks we shared with Creech, the NYC-based brand studio we partnered with for our next big chapter. (Incidentally, we were introduced to Creech by our pal Dan Barber, who worked with them on branding for his seed company Row 7.)
What’s Five Two, you ask? Well. It’s our new line of products for your kitchen, home, and life. We started with a dynamo of a cutting board—that, ahem, 10,000 of your helped design—and we’re just getting started.
The business of building the Five Two brand, however, is equal parts a journey of creativity and the stuff of Food52 legend, so we caught up with Griffin Creech, founder and executive creative director of Creech (our aforementioned partners in crime) to get the high points down on paper. Home cooks with your own blogs, by all means take notes.
Building a sidecar onto a motorcycle while that motorcycle is speeding down a highway at 75mph is no easy feat. Oh, and did we mention that sidecar needs to be its own freely moving vehicle as well? It does. But first things first, we had to figure out where we were going.
"We had weekly meetings with Creech for 4 months, during which time they grilled us a bunch on what we really stand for as a company, what stories we want to tell, what community means to us," says Amanda Hesser, our co-founder and CEO. And we wanted to open up our world even further: "We also had to consider the fact that there are still millions of people who don't yet know us and we want to make sure when we do meet new readers and shoppers, they immediately feel a connection." So with "Food52" as our touchstone (aka our —cool lingo alert—"mother brand"), we quickly realized our first order of business was naming our new initiative.
“‘Five Two’ was our personal favorite because it felt like the poppy, not-just-about-food, fun and inviting sibling to Food52,” says Griffin. If Food52 is, at its heart, a resource for home cooks, Five Two needed to bust out of the kitchen and get the whole house involved. We like to think we’ve tipped our hat at the classic while giving it a bit of a remix (like Full House and Fuller House, for the Netflix-inclined). "Five Two felt universal to us, distinctive, and yet meaningfully tied to our mother brand," Amanda adds. There's that cool lingo again.
The Pantone-approved palette (with Dusk, our signature color), the exact thickness of the Five Two font, every last piece of packaging our Five Two products will dress up in—it was all carefully considered and hand-picked, much like you would an avocado. “We wanted to create something that felt vibrant, modern, and versatile,” Griffin says. And it was so. Font lovers, to the front: You’ll be happy to notice a Sans typeface. It’s a more geometric choice that, “allows it to sit well with both Food52 proper while still having the flexibility to be applied to many different types of products,” Griffin adds.
Time to give a big shoutout to the Five Two tagline, “Made by us, made with you.” It really embodies the spirit of what we’re doing here—something the likes of which our industry has never seen—collaborating with our community to create functional, beautiful products. And we’re words people, in case you couldn’t tell. “Writer Nerd Real Talk: Many of our clients don’t like or understand the Oxford comma, and when we found out that Food52 feels as strongly as we do about their use, we cried tears of joy. Or at least I did,” Griffin says. ‘Nuff said. So when you see us describe Five Two as “a new line for your kitchen, home, and life,” know that second comma placement was gold.
Because no Food52 endeavor would be complete without snacks, and lots of ‘em, “Our favorite part of the collaboration was obviously the food at every meeting. Kidding! But the food was good,” Griffin says. And what a bounty of brain fuel it was: Salted Chocolate Buckwheat Cookies, tiny baguettes, croissants, seasonal loaf cakes (apple-honey or pumpkin molasses) are but a few of the goodies we laid out from our stalwart bakery Bien Cuit. We also had spreads of cheese, crackers, and nuts—even a few things Griffin's never seen before. "I had never seen oat milk before our first Food52 meeting and I thought I was being served spoiled milk…but now I’m a convert!"
Needless to say, we’re thrilled with how Five Two came together and all the cool, new collaborations we had along the way. “The passion that Amanda and Merrill have for making people’s lives better through shared moments and experiences is really energizing,” Griffin says. “They made the whole process exciting and joyful.”
“Shared experiences” being the key—yes, in branding, but also with you. That’s why our hashtag is #f52byyou, so feel free to sprinkle liberally throughout your social media.
And in case you’re wondering what’s happening next, kitchen towels are a go, go, go. Just wait ‘til you see them.