Frank’s Place

Since 1974, Frank’s Place has served LGBTQ+ customers in the coastal city of New London, CT. For years, customers traveled from far and wide for its wild drag shows and fundraisers.

Role Creative Director · Web Designer · Coder

Deliverables Customer Research · Brand Identity · Wireframes · Hi-fidelity Prototype · Print

Tools InDesign · Photoshop · Illustrator · Sketch

Timeframe 8 months

Agency Manji Designs LLC

The Problem

LGBTQ+ customers wanted a fun, inclusive, and safe place to unwind, reminiscent of Frank’s Place’s run during the late-90s. Unfortunately, customer needs fell largely unmet due to changing city demographics and inconsistent business management. Customers grew bored of the lack of entertainment and lively attendance, causing many to leave for a competing venue that offered more.

"How can we regain the customers we’ve lost and increase beverage sales?”

Opportunity

  • Research customer behaviors, needs, and pain points to inform business decisions and re-engage lost customers.
  • Create a strategic marketing plan and a new identity to re-engage customers.
  • Establish online presences to funnel customers to the proper channels.
Key Performance Indicators
  • Increase social media engagement (likes and follows).
  • Increase website traffic.
  • Increase beverage and kitchen sales.

Research

Understanding customer needs and motivators began with several interviews and a marketing survey that informed customer demographics, behaviors, and desires. I also conducted a marketing audit to reveal communication gaps, which customer interviews also reflected. View the research report

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Define

Research insights summarized in customer personas helped inform business decisions, such as menu pricing and prioritizing entertainment. Overall, customers wanted to remain loyal to Frank’s Place but expected a level of effort in return — a matter of consistent, quality entertainment and service.

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Ideate

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Branding

Identity

I created a new brand identity and voice to reinvigorate disengaged customers and establish brand recognition.

Photography

I photographed the best Frank’s Place had to offer. Showing its busy nights, softball team, food, and friendly staff helped change the perception about its vitality and cleanliness. Branding included staff uniforms, cheeky event posters, and other print marketing.

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UX Design

Wireframes illustrated information architecture and provided concepts for content to address communication gaps. We determined that it was essential to tell Frank’s Place’s story to play on nostalgia that was once lost.

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Prototype

A new responsive website became a tool to tell the bar's long-standing but lost history and reach customers using their mobile devices on the go.

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Testing

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Results

  • Facebook gained over 1,500 likes in the first year after launch.
  • Beverage sales increased by 200 cases a month.
  • Staff morale improved, as reflected in staff and customer surveys.
  • Select print marketing received a Graphic Design USA award in 2010.
Lessons Learned
  • Customers will easily forgive acknowledged mistakes, but business owners must consistently follow through with promises.
  • Customers are not going to work to find information. Word of mouth and reputation are far more powerful than any internally crafted marketing message.
  • Asking customers to complete a marketing survey after a few drinks will not yield the best results.
In Hindsight…
  • I would have held a focus group to understand customer needs and desires in addition to the survey.
  • I could have tested poster concepts to ensure they’d resonate with target audiences.
  • I would not have asked customers to complete a survey while drinking.