Four Kitchens

Four Kitchens cooks up some of the best sites on the internet with its content expertise, technical excellence, and affinity for mission-driven organizations. If you’re looking for a partner who makes content easier to create, manage, distribute, access, and experience on the web, look no farther.

With a do-good, fun-loving culture and a drive to give back to the open-source community, Four Kitchens is the web agency that exemplifies the very best in collaboration and creativity.

The agency partnered with Focus Lab at a critical time; from its roots in Texas, Four Kitchens had grown into a global company. The number of employees doubled. New leadership was added. Clearly, Four Kitchens needed a brand tailored to complement its expansion. A brand that was consistent and professional, and which showcased its people as more than just cool programmers and developers. A brand that resonated with its best-fit customers.

After a recent merger and ahead of an acquisition, Four Kitchens found itself expanding — and in need of a brand custom-built to grow.

Brand Strategy

Focus Lab began by helping Four Kitchens articulate its differentiation. Through pre-project kickoff prep, weekly meetings, and strategic discussions, three differentiators surfaced: content expertise, technical excellence, and living our values. These incorporated tangible proof points blended with intangible and emotionally resonant distinctiveness. Together, they were the seeds of a new brand.

Toward that end, Four Kitchens identified three brand attributes — Accomplished, Multifaceted, and Vibrant — that both explain the agency’s technical expertise and showcase its care for people, from its employees to each of its clients. Positivity, community impact, diverse backgrounds and skill sets — all wove through the attributes. And they paired with a brand archetype — The Creator — to convey imagination, self-expression, and vision.

All of this led to a big aha moment early in the project: an identity that bridged the functional and emotional aspects of the brand, the How and the Why. It highlighted Four Kitchens’ innate ability to educate and promote access to knowledge, and its advocacy for the greater good and people-first culture.

Building off Four Kitchens’ differentiators and channeling the agency’s attributes and archetypes, Focus Lab developed a new strategic direction for the brand that nodded to its roots as a publishing company with a love of storytelling and honored the importance of its company culture. At the heart of this direction was a phrase that summed up the sentiment nicely: “Doing good in good company.”

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Verbal Identity

As both a rallying cry for employees and a philosophical declaration to external audiences, core messaging statements — purpose, mission, and vision — should clearly convey why and how a brand does its work, and where it wants to take the world.

The project team crafted individual statements and an “All Together” version that, again, bridged the brand’s functional and emotional aspects: “We exist to make the web a better place to teach, learn, and advocate for all. To do this, we build content-driven websites that help organizations fulfill their missions. By doing this, we help create a world where knowledge is set free and the greater good is made better.”

To quickly articulate how Four Kitchens meets its audience’s pressing needs and the benefits customers can expect, Focus Lab crafted a unique selling proposition and value proposition.

Four Kitchens’ unique selling proposition touts “proven experience in education, advocacy, and publishing” that informs a “unique, content-focused approach to crafting websites.” And its value proposition reminds audiences of websites’ power: “It’s how you tell your story. It’s how you get people to sign up and show up. It’s how you get things done. Our experience and skills will help your team realize its potential and fulfill your mission.” These propositions further contributed to an elevator pitch tailored to the brand.

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Additionally, the team built an audience messaging framework — a guide that addresses key needs and pain points respective to specific audiences. To amplify these messages and Four Kitchens’ unique personality, we developed a three-prong brand voice that sounds empowering, insightful, and fun.

Finally, the brand voice — and all the aforementioned messaging — starred in a custom brand story, inviting Four Kitchens’ customers on a journey that makes them the hero. The story’s kicker: “Better websites. For a better world.”

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A new logomark (a depiction of a “4” and a “K” in a single mark) and logotype express the powerful evolution of the Four Kitchens brand, with a nod to the company’s original logo. We named the new logomark Benē, and its shape is accentuated by sharp details — reflecting technical excellence — while its overall balance provides a sense of grounding.

Inspired by the Latin term bene, the mark celebrates the love of content, continuous improvement, team, and the mission-driven organizations Four Kitchens works with. Benē represents work that’s done well and work that does good.

Meanwhile, we designed a fresh logotype to reflect the boldness of the mark. The logotype’s key feature: a pixelated “i,” which makes it ownable and able to be used on its own, outside of the lockup. As a bonus, the single pixel is also present in the mark, for extra cohesion.

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Visual Language

Speaking of pixelation, we constructed Four Kitchens’ visual identity from a core system of pixels, used to inform everything from layout to illustration to photo treatment. Pixelated pattern work spans two categories, tonal and bold, with the former creating subtle background texture, and the latter used to create strong graphical interest in a piece of content. The size of individual pixels remains constant to modulate fidelity: for instance, a handful of pixels can create utility icons, while adding more pixels yields marketing icons and illustrations.

We developed custom colors — Kitchens Kelly, Leafy Green, and Whipped Cream — for the brand’s primary palette, and created a poppy-yet-subtle secondary palette consisting of more custom colors (Rhubarb, Lemon Lime, Plum, and Pink Salt). Delicious.

A final note about Kitchens Kelly — that green hue tied back to the original brand and was important to the Four Kitchens team. So, we listened. We kept it. And we made it stronger through the use of supporting colors.

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Focus Lab worked with Four Kitchens to create copy and designs for the agency’s website. From homepages to blog pages, across desktop and mobile devices, our UI designers and writers created fresh renderings of pages designed for various audiences — from prospective customers to current employees. A key feature on the Team page was a piece of copy — the Brand Idea — that emerged during the early stages of brand strategy work: “Doing good in good company.”

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Brand Support

Once the initial brand project work was completed, Four Kitchens opted to sign up for Focus Lab’s Brand Support offering. We helped the agency create everything from brand rollout graphics to a pixel icon library, which extended the brand’s visual language. The biggest win of all: our efforts enabled Four Kitchens to easily and efficiently complete a large-scale brand rollout.

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Our partnership with Focus Lab has been (and continues to be) among the most successful and rewarding I've experienced in my 17 years at Four Kitchens. Thank you all for everything.

Todd Ross Nienkerk, CEO and co-founder, Four Kitchens
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Post-Project Success

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