What Inspired the Little ‘Nemesis Coffee’ Upside-Down Heart Icon?

Branding Vancouver is a new column in which we look at some of the more interesting logos and icons that appear in Vancouver’s food and beverage scene. Some of the explanations will be long and others short, but the goal of deeper understanding will be constant. If you want the backstory of a particularly compelling local brand revealed, let us know via @scoutmagazine and we’ll try to figure it out.

This week we’re taking a look at the upside down heart that glows at us every time we walk into Nemesis Coffee, the third wave coffee shop and restaurant on the western edge of Victory Square (302 West Hastings). It sprung from an illustration by co-owner Jess Reno and long before construction began. Here’s how it came about, in Jess’ own words:

“I’m happy to say that I personally created the logo. It came with its trials and tribulations. I tried out a variety of concepts in collaboration with a branding group called Fancy but none of them stuck. I started the logo by trying to form my hands into a heart. We wanted something that was human and everyone could create themselves (throwing up an inverted heart hand symbol with your hands). This way our brand/icon could relate to everyone and cross cultural boundaries and borders. I guess I’m somewhat of a minimalist and I like to strip things away where it can be done. As the concept evolved so did the icon and we ended up with what we have now: an easily identifiable icon, a straight up inverted heart. I’d like to give a shout out to Bruce Mau Design who we connected with after the logo was complete and the concept was sussed out. They helped us put together our brand guidelines (pick fonts, curate a mood board, work on the Pantone colour choices, etc.).

The concept for Nemesis originally started as a magazine (not a coffee shop, haha) that shined light on emerging creatives and folks of various fields and backgrounds. Everyone from a skater, painter, barista, chef, architect, mixologist, cannabis cultivator, gang member, academic, etc. … Besides the fact that we are nerdy baristas at heart, I’ve seen coffee as an equalizer amongst many different people of various backgrounds and upbringings. We wanted to make Nemesis a place where we could express the culture that we love but appeal to a wide audience without prejudice. We wanted something cutting edge and forward thinking that acted as a barista’s paradise but, at the same time, we wanted to create a great space where our community of all backgrounds could connect and engage with each each other over great coffee and food. Thus, the inverted heart is our unique, non-prejudicial way of showing love and bringing our entire community together. The heart symbolizes love but inverting it was our unique way of showing that the way we want to. We want to create a brand with the simplicity of Apple with the cultural edge and content similar to Vice. Hopefully, as time passes and we grow, we can break into a lot of the creative elements that we crave.”

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