COVA is definitely one of the projects that I feel both proud and lucky to have worked on. My role in this project was fundamental; from building up the concept and shaping the story behind the newborn coffee store, going through creating the visual identity and brand assets. In addition to branding and visual design efforts, I also provided essential copywriting for COVA.
Concept & Story —
Life is demanding. Distractions are everywhere, leaving us drained and making it harder to stay in control. Chances that we fall for illusions are higher with being exhausted or out of focus. But it’s never a good time for excuses.
As our lives keep getting more complex and stressful day after day, coffee remains a magical, yet a practical and healthy solution capable of reducing the negative effects of both emotional and physical tensions. The emotional barriers that make things seem hard or unattainable can all fade away simply with just the right cup of coffee.
COVA is an art, a passion, and a solution. It believes that coffee is more than just a drink, but also a catalyst that can improve people’s lives in many different ways. It enables people to achieve more by diminishing the clutter inside their minds, and helps them to take back the wheel and get in control when they are about to lose it.
No more illusions.
It's coffee that works. It’s COVA.
Naming —
COVA went back to the basics and found inspiration in a coffee-admiring culture—the Italian—where coffee is both a tradition and an art. The first syllable of the name “CO” was directly taken from “coffee”, while the second syllable “VA” in Italian gives the meaning of “goes” or “works”. This is what COVA is basically about: coffee that helps people do more, do it better, feel better, and focus on the things that matter to them the most. COVA is simply “Coffee That Works”.
The name was selected after long back-and-forth negotiations between the agency and the client. Different names have been proposed, with “COVA” eventually making the cut.
A period "." was then added to the name in a later stage to become "COVA.", giving the sense that COVA is the answer and the solution, with nothing more needs to be said.
Art Direction —
COVA is minimalist industrial—yet fun, playful and art-driven. The visual style is characterized by mostly flat graphics, geometric shapes, bold colors, and large sans-serif typography. It was all meant to reference the rough, urban environments often experienced by COVA’s main target audience, and to reflect their modern, fast-paced lifestyle.
Being located in Zamalek—a neighborhood known as a favorite destination for the creative community in Cairo and home to many artists—created a need for COVA to become much more than just another coffee store. COVA was planned to look and feel unique, inspiring, and after all meaningful. The final result was proudly a work of art!
Symbolism —
The Impossible Triangle
COVA promises coffee that makes your life easier. A derivative of the renowned "Impossible (Penrose) Triangle" was developed, taking that promise beyond realism and making it sound more dramatic.
The point was to create an illusion; a challenge that requires you to look closely from different perspectives until you realize the trick, and then see how a cup of coffee can help making things clear and possible once again.
Press Play!
The triangle also resembles a “Play” icon pointing slightly upwards. It complements the concept and reflects the idea of how COVA can help you stay active, and be more productive and creative.
It is important to mention that the triangle is not the logo, but it rather serves as a main visual element that adds an extra layer of depth and meaning to the brand.
Logo —
The logo consists of only the brand name "COVA.", while the triangle is a visual element meant to be used alongside the logo, but never instead of it.
The brand name "COVA." is written in "Akzidenz-Grotesk BQ Bold Condensed" font, with the kerning between the letters "VA" been carefully reduced. The period was changed from the font's bulky, square dot to a smooth, more attractive round dot instead.
The logo can be used in one of three different color variations—dark gray, yellow, or white—allowing it to adapt to both light and dark backgrounds. Standard background colors were set to: yellow, dark gray, medium gray, or white.
The color relation between the logo and the background changes slightly, however, when the logo and the triangle are both present on any given artwork, as shown below. That was purposely planned to give the triangle more exposure when used alongside, or behind the logo.
A demonstration of the color relation between the logo, triangle, and the background. The relative size & position of each of the logo and the triangle may vary, however, from one application to another.
Colors —
Typography —
The COVA Cup —
The COVA paper cup comes in three color variations; yellow being used for the largest size, medium gray for medium size, and dark gray for the smallest size—which is typically used for the strongest coffee servings (e.g. espresso). All of the three colors/sizes feature the logo, triangle, and the tagline "It's impossible, until this cup of coffee".
A flat demonstration of the paper cup design.
Lenticular Card (Concept) —
Lenticular printing* is a simple technology that allows for displaying different images on the same printed surface area when viewed from different angles, while giving the sense of motion to the transition from one image to the other. Though the technique itself is somewhat from the past, but it sounded very legit to use it for a brand whose identity heavily revolves around the concept of optical illusion.
The card design was intentionally made very minimal, leaving all the attention to the trick on its back side, which was designed to display either the logo or the triangle—depending on the viewing angle. When seen from an angle somewhere in between, it would display a fuzzy, choppy image of both elements together (something close to the simulation below). The front side of the card features the logo, contact information along with the tagline "No more illusions, it's coffee that works." all placed on a solid white background.
A simulation of the lenticular card design.
Unfortunately, the lenticular card was not developed in real life due to both technical and financial limitations. The design was not entirely thrown away, however, as the back side was modified to display just the triangle centered on a basic, solid color background. The front side was kept unchanged.
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