Isla Vida: Branding, Web, Marketing

Building a Brand and Creating a Community of Evangelists to Launch a New Business.


Since 2006, Chef Jay Foster’s farmerbrown has been one of SF’s best reviewed soul-food restaurants.

When the opportunity presented itself to open a new business in the Historic Fillmore District, he, along with Farmerbrown veterans Matthew Washington and Erin Traylor, came to Plinth to design the brand, website, and market their new concept, Isla Vida.


  • Design Isla Vida’s brand identity and website.

  • Develop a marketing campaign for Isla Vida’s October 2018 launch.



  • Establish what the Isla Vida brand stands for BEYOND its food and develop a unique brand persona around the brand to help distinguish it from its competitors.

  • Create a website that is optimized for mobile, puts ordering options upfront, and communicates the story of the brand.

  • Use crowdfunding as marketing tool to communicate the story of the brand, attract press, and develop a community of evangelists before Isla Vida’s opening.



For a brand to truly resonate with people, it has give them more than a great product and great visual design. People support brands that stand for something and remember brands that have a sense of personality.

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To establish a firm foundation for the brand, we did an in depth interview with Isla Vida’s partners to develop the brand’s core values, develop its point of view, and extract the nuances of Isla Vida’s persona.

For the brand exploration we distilled Isla Vida’s core purpose.

“We want people to discover the beauty, soul, and vibrant spirit of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora through food.”



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To develop Isla Vida’s visual style, we took inspiration from the golden age of one of the Caribbean’s cultural epicenters, Havana.

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We balanced the Art Deco logo type with a sun / palm leaf mark to communicate Isla Vida’s connection with nature and “Island Life”



One of Isla Vida’s core values is “Crafted Simplicity” meaning that although they are meticulous in their technique, the food, and the dining experience is meant to be simple and easily accessible.

We made sure to incorporate this value in Isla Vida’s webpage by designing custom ordering icons and placing them front and center.

Placing these icons over great food photography on the front page puts visitors immediately into the ordering process.

As users scroll down, they see the full menu and the story of brand.


Designing merchandise for marketing

Another important dimension to Isla Vida is that it is a NEW black-owned business in SF’s Fillmore District operated by natives to San Francisco and the this historically black neighborhood.

With fewer and fewer black-owned businesses in the Fillmore, aka “The Harlem of The West, or “Fillmoe”, the opening of Isla Vida evoked a special a sense of pride from both the owners and the local community.

To elicit pride in the neighborhood and tie the Isla Vida brand to the Fillmore District, we designed merchandise to be used as rewards in our upcoming crowdfunding marketing campaign.

The designs featured illustrations calling out to the Isla Vida brand, the “Fillmoe” neighborhood, and empowerment. The machete was an important symbol to owners because it was the tool used by the people of the African diaspora to farm, cook, and incite revolutions.



To market the launch of Isla Vida, we developed a 30 day flexible goal Indiegogo campaign to tell the brand’s story, generate press, raise funds for long-term success, and most importantly, develop a community of people who believe in the business and serve as its first customers.

We developed Isla Vida’s campaign around the fact that Chef Foster and his team were opening a new black-owned business in the Fillmore District, a historically black neighborhood where there are fewer and fewer black-owned businesses.

Prior to the launch of the crowdfunding marketing campaign, we helped develop the storylines for promotional videos, designed rewards, and executed a month long social media content marketing strategy which grew their Instagram following from 0-1000 active followers in 30 days.



One of Isla Vida’s core values is “Community and Cultural Consciousness”. We designed merchandise which called out to the “Fillmoe” neighborhood and developed rewards which gave back to the community such as entrepreneurship talks to schools and luncheons for local organizations.



As word spread about Isla Vida’s crowdfunding campaign on social media, the press picked up on the on the story and their cause.

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Our flexible goal Indiegogo campaign raised $18K to help Isla Vida pay for new signage, outdoor patio, and electric bikes.

More importantly though, the campaign helped create a community around Isla Vida and gained multiple press articles in SF Chronicle, Hoodline, Eater SF, and more.

At Plinth we combine brand strategy, design, and marketing to grow business. If you’d like to see what Plinth can do for you…