What happens when a graphic designer opens a bar…

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Read on for the story of Lucky You Lounge—a full-service restaurant, bar, and nightclub located in Spokane, Washington. Today, designer and owner Karli Ingersoll gives us the inside scoop on what it’s like to brand and design a physical space! Photos by Karli Ingersoll and Brandon Vasquez.

I’m a Spokane, Washington-based art director/designer/illustrator/painter/musician/business owner. I’ve worked in advertising and design for about 14 years and those skills have carried over into the businesses I’ve owned with my husband.

Spokane is on the eastern side of Washington state. It’s a medium-sized, slightly conservative town that has seen quite a burst of energy to the music and arts scene in the last 10 years. It’s pretty blue-collar, but also a college town with four universities and two community colleges.

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What was the idea behind opening Lucky You Lounge?

My husband Caleb and I opened and ran a 150 cap all-ages music venue called The Bartlett for almost six years (we just closed it last fall). We learned so much from The Bartlett. We established ourselves as promoters and built a strong audience for live music in Spokane.

But, we also learned that all-ages music venues make negative money. So, Lucky You was a little bit of a reaction to what wasn’t working at The Bartlett. We wanted something bigger that was more focused on nightlife but capitalized on live music in the same way.

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Lucky You Lounge exterior.

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Lucky You Lounge Interior.

Branding Lucky You Lounge

Before I had completely finished the logo design, we had to move forward with painting the exterior of the building. I wanted to paint a mural on the big sign out front, so I had to pick colors. I wanted the colors I picked to be the brand colors and be a consistent thread between the space, social media, printed stuff, merch, etc. I also had in mind that I wanted to create a brand that would function easily on social media—something colorful, flexible, and fast-moving. Something you could create content quickly for with a consistent feel to it.

I wanted to create a brand that would function easily on social media—something colorful, flexible, & fast-moving.

Knowing from The Bartlett how much work it is to market and promote an establishment like this and how much content needs to be created on a weekly basis, I wanted to make my job in the long run as easy as possible. Color seemed like a great foundation for that. The palette is everywhere in the space so it’s become easily recognizable as Lucky You.

I made a bunch of painted backdrops in the brand colors to do food and cocktail photo shoots with and the simple neon style linework of the logo set is really manipulatable. A year in and I’m still having fun with making new content and creating stuff for the brand, so I feel like it’s worked out just how I was hoping!

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Building out a larger brand system

When you own the business, there are no budget constraints with design projects… a mixed blessing. Website, SO MUCH SOCIAL, videos, murals, menus, signage, merch, labels, stickers, print ads, so many show posters, etc, etc, etc.

I’ve relied heavily on the color palette inside the space to represent the brand.

Recently, a local brewery, Iron Goat, made us our own beer so I got to design cans for that. I have helped some with the interior decor. The space is so huge and we didn’t have a big budget for art when we first opened, so I painted a few large pieces myself using the brand colors to fill up some wall space.

We are slowly adding more art as we go along. I never wanted the space to be very “branded” as far as graphics go—so I’ve relied heavily on the color palette inside the space to represent the brand.

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How does the customer experience play into Lucky You’s branding?

I think the name of the place has been a fun brand element. Our customers have made their own hashtag #luckymeluckyyou which is cute. People love the feel of the space, they love the live music we bring in, and it’s fun to see things organically emerge through our customers that can become a part of the brand.

Any business owner knows, the best kind of marketing is when your customers do it for you.

Girls drinking with their friends love to take bathroom selfies. The women’s bathroom is the brand pink, and we have a selfie club, so photos get circulated on social media a lot. Some ladies really go all out! I think it’s a really easy way to build connections to the brand as it encourages people to document fun experiences with friends. And any business owner knows, the best kind of marketing is when your customers do it for you. We have two gender-neutral bathrooms that are the brand purple and the men’s bathroom is one of the gold colors. But that pink just makes everyone look good, so it gets the most selfies.

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What’s next with Lucky You Lounge?

During shut down, we’ve been taking the opportunity to do some projects around the space including redoing the patio which will include a couple of murals. I’m also working on adding some more way-finding signage in the space as we often get complaints about it being kind of confusing—it’s such a large space and you have to pass by the basement stairs to get to the main dining area. So, there’s always something to work on.

We’re hoping to expand on our wall art as well. Once we are able to reopen, it’s looking like we won’t be doing live music much until 2021 because of restrictions on capacity. So, we are trying to find ways to make the space feel homier and settle into being a restaurant/bar while we wait to restart events.

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Want to keep up with Karli? Find her on Dribbble, Instagram, Twitter, and find Lucky You Lounge at luckyyoulounge.com and Instagram


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