Pink Dot, a Los Angeles-based delivery company that transports food, alcohol and household goods to consumers’ doors, found itself in a pickle last year. A decades-old LA staple, Pink Dot was struggling to keep up with newer, high-tech brands such as Uber Eats and Postmates.
Enter Truffl. Also based in LA, the creative agency and branding studio helped a delivery service falling behind the times take advantage of today’s tech and branding methods to revitalize its connection to customers, particularly millenials and Gen-Zers. Street Fight hopped on the phone with Truffl creative director and founder Raphael Farasat for the details.
First, tell our readers who you are, why you started Truffl and what Truffl does.
I’m the founder and creative director of Truffl. We are a creative agency that works on retainer with clients to transform their businesses. We’re a boutique firm but also a full-service one. We work across branding, design, social media advertising and management, partnerships, graphic design, website design and everything in between. We act as a company’s in-house marketing department.
As for who I am, as an entrepreneur I really enjoy the times when you’re starting the business or making a big change. Getting involved where we do is the time when you can make the biggest impact.
When and why were you called in to do work with Pink Dot?
It was about a year ago. They were seeing all these different delivery apps gain a lot of traction, and they wanted to see what they could do with a digital solution to complement what they were doing with their traditional delivery service that was mostly phone-based and retail-based. They were already doing some rebranding. I came in and gave some advice on the look and feel, but the scope expanded as we started working together, and we started doing a lot more for them.
What role did you have in updating Pink Dot’s service itself, meaning the actual mechanics of what the company offers, how it delivers and how it competes with technological competitors?
The biggest impact we had is at a strategic level, thinking about how [Pink Dot] can compete and complement those services. For example, offering unique products that other people don’t offer. One is called craft cocktails on demand, our program that’s like Blue Apron for drinks. We have our own cocktail menu. There’s everything from spicy margaritas to different concoctions we’ve come up with with mixologists. You can order for two people up to one hundred, and within an hour you get everything you need to make your own craft cocktails for a party. That’s an example of creating something other people can’t replicate because of the logistics.
Also, Pink Dot has a kitchen, and a lot of their food [used to involve] heating up items brought in from distributors. We brought in a chef. Now we have really good deli sandwiches, pizzas and salads. Everything is fresh and made to order.
How did you improve Pink Dot’s branding?
The goal was how do we update the brand to be fresh and modern but still have the feeling that this is an established brand that has a legacy. We tried to build the brand around a big idea. The idea was that this is a legendary delivery service for the Hollywood Hills. We thought it was aspirational and had caché across America and stood for the ultimate house party you can experience … the backbone of what makes the brand special. We went with a vintage look to the font, sort of classic, ’60s, mid-century kind of feel, and we brightened it up with different pastel colors including millennial pink.
How is the work you did with Pink Dot reflective of broader social and commercial trends? In other words, what general advice would you give to other legacy companies looking to keep up with the latest in technology and branding?
For one, it’s got to be authentic. We didn’t want to change everything about the brand that people had a good connection with and memorable stories with. If you’re going to change a legacy brand, always retain what’s special about it.
Secondly, creating a share-worthy experience is really important — something that can live online even if it’s offline and turn customers into advocates. Everything we tried to do with our site, packaging, new products, our store, creating an Instagram wall … was about creating a wow factor. We invested in packaging, created the cocktail program. For example, some of the cocktails come in actual pineapples that we’ve carved out — that’s social media gold. Infusing everything with personality and caring about the way things are presented and how they look is really important.
Another thing that might be relevant for local — we did a lot of partnerships with brands in the area. We go across the street and develop relationships. Fred Segal just opened up a location across the street, and we opened a Pink Dot bodega pop-up shop inside. Now it’s going to be a permanent installation. There’s a new hotel that opened across the street, and we developed a minibar program for them. They have a Pink Dot minibar in each of their rooms at the Jeremy Hotel.
What are the most common problems brands face in reaching millennials and Gen-Zers?
They’re both audiences that are being marketed to constantly in all aspects of their lives. On social media and online, they’re being bombarded. So a lot of the traditional ways of advertising that work with older generations aren’t always as effective with millenials. It takes a new way of thinking about how you’re presenting your company. A better way to do it is to develop a community around your brand and have a conversation with your customers and get them to be involved with what you’re offering.
Are you ever concerned that in optimizing for millennials and Gen-Zers you might create barriers for older consumers?
That’s definitely something that can be concerning. Sometimes, it’s a matter of choosing. You can’t always be everything to everyone. For specific examples, in certain areas, we cut certain menu items that are popular with certain customers. But we did it because we want everything to be of a standard quality.
I don’t think you should change things just to change them. If something works and it makes sense and is appealing, it should be universal and you should keep it. But if something is just there and doesn’t necessarily play a functional role, I don’t think it’s always necessary to keep it.
We changed a lot of things, but for example, Pink Dot is really well known for their punch buggies that deliver food. Some people wanted to get newer cars that would be easier to source, but we felt keeping the punch buggies was an iconic, classic part of the brand. So we’re going to paint them and have a new design, but we’ll keep them and have them be an integral part of the brand.
What’s next for Truffl?
We used to be more design- and event-focused. We worked on developing a brand identity or creating an event campaign. It was always project-based. With Pink Dot, we started working on retainer and helping with all aspects of their business. We’ve started to do that with other clients, and the company’s growing fast because of it. What’s next is taking on similar projects where we get a hand in all aspects of their marketing and branding as well as continuing to offer new services.
Joe Zappa is Street Fight’s news editor. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.