Shake Shack Rocks their IPO

Shake shack rocks their IPO, but the story behind their brand is just as intriguing as the meteoric rise and their going public and shaking up the markets.   The Shake Shack IPO will be a story worth telling. 

The Untold Story Of Shake Shack’s $1.6 Billion Branding


Last week, Shake Shack went public in an IPO that ballooned to $1.6 billion—cementing the brand’s journey from a one-off boutique stand in New York’s Madison Square Park to a multinational burger titan with restaurants reaching Moscow, Istanbul, and Dubai.

In retrospect, a dream team of talent assembled to build Shake Shack. Founder Danny Meyer is the restaurateur behind many of New York’s hottest restaurants. Pat LaFrieda butchers blended the umami-rich mix of brisket, chuck, skirt steak, and short rib in each burger. And architect James Wines developed the original shack structure in Madison Square Park. But what of the casually catchy Shake Shack branding that has spread so effortlessly to cultures across the globe? The logo, signage, bags, and uniforms were all designed by Pentagram in a project led by principal graphic designer Paula Scher.


shake shack

“It was so accidental,” Scher explains on a call, “because it was conceived for one specific location at that point in time. I don’t think anyone was thinking that this was going to be a chain.”

Scher was already spearheading a pro bono redesign of Madison Square Park’s identity for the park’s Conservancy. So when the Conservancy decided to build a permanent burger stand on the public premises, Scher was the logical choice to ensure the burger branding didn’t clash. (And she originally picked up the Shake Shack project for free, since it was an extension of the Conservancy project.)

Two different sources of inspiration informed Shake Shack’s branding, which evolved over time. The first was the shack structure itself—a corrugated metal hut that would help earn James Wines a National Design Award for lifetime achievement in 2013. “The original idea was, the shack would be part of an urban landscape in parks. And that’s how the first one was designed,” Scher explains. “So when I designed the logo for Shake Shack, it was really the architecture that drove the design.”


shake shack

The shack exuded a kind of approachable modernness, and Scher wanted a typeface to match. She chose Neutra. To this day, metallic, Neutra lettering spells out Shake Shack in front of all their global stores.

Scher introduced a second wave of branding some time after the store had opened for business. This time it would be paid work—”not well-paid, mind you, but they only had one outlet,” Scher says. It tapped the core idea behind Shake Shack itself—a ’50s burger joint reimagined for a modern context. So for the text on menus and bags, Pentagram turned to the curvaceous Galaxie Cassiopeia font, or what Scher lovingly calls “a phony neon script” that still felt modern enough to keep up with the logo. The typeface was paired with squiggly burger, shake, and fry icons that evoked classic signage. Even rendered in ink, you can almost see the 1950s neon shining through.

Though the branding was designed for the peculiarities of Shake Shack’s original site, it has managed to scale to franchises placed in more typical storefront locations, and even airports. “I think the modernness of it is somehow perfect in keeping with the quality of the food. It’s a contemporary fast-food chain with a high-level product—as opposed to McDonald’s, which is also modeled after 1950s burger chains but serves downscale food,” Scher says. “In retrospect, if you’d done a million years of focus testing and consumer studies, you wouldn’t do a better job. It shows you the charm of the happenstance.”

When I ask Scher later if it felt a bit strange to see pro bono work now define the face of a $1.6 billion public company, she admits that it is “a bit.”

“They offered me a stock purchase before the public offering,” she writes in an email. “And in fairness, no one had an idea of how successful it would become.”

Written by

8 Comments to “Shake Shack Rocks their IPO”

  1. Darrel Mckeehan says:

    Hello! I just would like to offer you a huge thumbs up for your excellent information you’ve
    got here on this post. I will be coming back to your blog for more soon.

  2. Darcel Pascua says:

    Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles
    as long as I provide credit and sources back to your site?

    My website is in the very same area of interest as yours and my users would genuinely benefit from some of the information you present here.

    Please let me know if this ok with you. Appreciate it!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I in finding It truly helpful & it helped me out a lot. I am hoping to give one thing again and aid others like you aided me.

  4. VinnieHMixer says:

    After looking into a handful of the blog articles in your
    webpage, I seriously appreciate your way of blogging. I book-marked it to my bookmark site list and you
    will be checking back in the future. Take a look at my website too and tell me your feelings.

  5. RexBHodgkiss says:

    Wonderful, what a web site it is! This web site gives useful data to us, keep it up.

  6. StanRGoretti says:

    Your personal style is absolutely unique as compared to other people I’ve read stuff from.
    Many thanks for posting when you’ve got an opportunity, Guess I’ll just book mark this website.

  7. Scottie Ventura says:

    Greetings from Los angeles! I’m bored to death at work so I decided to browse your blog on my iphone during lunch break. I really like the information you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m shocked at how quick your blog loaded on my mobile .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, very good blog!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Magnificent goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you are just extremely great.
    I really like what you have got right here, certainly
    like what you’re stating and the best way wherein you say it.
    You’re making it entertaining and you still care for to stay
    it sensible. I can not wait to read far more from you. This is actually a terrific site.

Leave a Reply