Brand Review: Brown Street Café

Anabela Parientes image
Anabela Parientes
February 27, 2023

Meet Zane Booker: entrepreneur, Black business owner, and self-proclaimed rule breaker. 

As owner of the newly opened Southwest Philly coffee shop, Brown Street Café, he brews every cup or cappuccino with a blend of personal pride. “I come from a family of entrepreneurs,” he told us. “My mother had a beauty salon and my father made and sold jewelry. I even had an uncle who ran a dry cleaning service. These important figures in my life really planted the seed for me to start my own business. I feel like I’m finishing the work they started.” 

So when Zane started putting together branding ideas, he knew he was bringing some strong-minded opinions to the table—how could he not, with a project so deeply personal? He struggled with several designers as his vision wasn’t conventional in the designing world, but lucky for him, we here at ChatterBlast are rule breakers too. 

Building a Community

When Zane finally came to us, we were eager to jump in and create the branding for Brown Street, especially one so rich with community ties. 

That word came up a lot in our conversations with Zane: community.

“I like the challenge of making the business successful and the concept of creating a community. I want to create a corner store feel where people of all ages can come hang out—shoppers who need a quick break from their chores, or kids who are bored shopping with mom can swing by and wait. I can equate the feeling to sitting on my porch, selling coffee to my neighbors.

“While working as a deli manager at ShopRite during the pandemic, I had a vision for a café in the empty in-store shop. I was amazed at how many people were coming in to do their grocery shopping everyday and I could imagine the community I could build around a coffee shop.”

Zane’s zest for his Philly community was just one of the many reasons we took on this project pro-bono. To deepen our ever growing relationship with the city we proudly call home. From the start, we knew this would be a challenge, but all the more rewarding for it. No innovator has ever created something great without daring to be bold, so here’s to breaking the norm and sipping delicious coffee while we’re at it!

Building a Brand

We began the process by testing different logos. This involved writing out visual concepts, then sketching out each one. Over many rounds of revisions, we narrowed the options down to three and refined each multiple times until we landed on the final design. 

When it came to selecting the brand colors, it was crucial for them to be inspired by African culture and art. Throughout the process, Zane expressed his desire for “people to know right off the bat that the shop is an African-American owned business.” Another reason this project was so important to him, and us. 

“I realized there were so many Black-owned businesses when I was growing up, and it was normal to see that. It’s how people made their living and how they got to know their neighbors,” he recalled. “Nowadays you don’t see that.”

As a creative agency, we know the community value behind a brand is just as crucial as the visual design. With Zane particularly inspired by African fabrics he had seen, we wanted to marry the shades on the fabric with earthy tones that leaned into the coffee vibe, that way customers would know two things right off the bat: Black owned, coffee shop. 

After several versions of color palettes, mixing different hues and textures, and regrouping for several brainstorms, we finally landed on a palette that hit home for Zane: the perfect blend of collaboration, community (there’s that integral theme woven in again!), and coffee.

Today, Brown Street Café is new but thriving. While the brand work may be done, Zane is just getting started when it comes to spreading his reach. “So far, I have started to collaborate in a big way with the United We Heal Film Festival—a social justice film festival that gives marginalized voices a platform,” he told us, an organization we’re also proud to be partnered with. 

“I’ve also collaborated with Mount Hebron Church to run a community sneaker drive. What I am really proud of is that I collaborate with five other Black entrepreneurs, four of whom are women, to run the café. We support each other. For example, one of the bakers who supplies the café has to upgrade to a larger space soon, and I’m really proud that I can support her in a way that builds her business.”

And so the chain of community continues. 

Pop by Brown Street Cafe at 2946 Island Ave to say hi to Zane, learn about the incredible Black-owned businesses that built his West Philadelphia neighborhood, and sip on some delicious Ethiopian coffee.