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A surf coast icon since 1999

At the start of the Great Ocean Road is the coastal town of Jan Juc – once a quiet place to surf and escape the city. Not anymore. The area is literally booming. An influx of new families making the lifestyle change to the region has meant that local businesses are forced to keep pace with broader consumer expectation.

Adapt or die

The challenge for any café business is to keep in step with customer expectations. Cafés in particular are susceptible to increased competition and trends related directly to experience. While Swell Café had some natural advantage over competitors – including being close to the beach, local surf breaks and the Surfcoast Walk coastal track – it was clear that the experience of visiting the café was tired. There was an immediate threat of competitors offering a more modern and contemporary café experience right next door.

Honouring tradition

We first met Scott Pond, Swell Café’s enigmatic owner, during regular visits for takeaway coffee in the mid 2000’s. Scottie makes the best coffee this side of Spring Creek and if you ask anyone in Jan Juc where they go for coffee, the answer was typically, ‘Scottie at Swell’.

New building heralds a new experience

Scott worked with local builder Michael Leake to plan the new Swell Café right next door to the current site. The opportunity was to modernise the café, build a more functional commercial kitchen and increase the alfresco and interior dining space. This also presented an opportunity to refresh the brand and visual identity, to keep pace with the more contemporary environment of polished concrete floors, bespoke blackbutt timber treatments and refreshed counters, tables and chairs.

“It would be fair to say that the original café space was quite ‘hippy’ and whilst Scott assimilated with this personally, he understood that he needed to broaden the appeal inline with the more diverse expectations of the customers,” explains Clifton Daniell, Creative Director at Fluid.

Bringing it to life

Scott was nervous about drifting too far from his past with the new Swell brand, so Fluid applied an evolutionary approach to the project. A handpainted, cursive word-mark, inspired by the shape and movement of the southern ocean, combined hand-painted lettering with modern supporting typography to achieve a balanced aesthetic. The new primary brand mark is a nod to the past, and is supported by secondary visual language including an establishment mark, ‘since 1999’, and oceanic photography by Chris McConville.

What’s next?

The refreshed Swell brand heralds a new era for the Jan Juc café, and creates a visual platform for owner Scott Pond to realise opportunities for the business to broaden brand awareness via a range of Swell branded products and merchandise.