martha's express

Design Graphics & Visualization | Spring 2018

my contributions:
  • designed the logo and assisted in finalizing the product in Illustrator

  • designed the packaging, stickers, and menu drawings

  • performed a behavioral analysis of consumer behavior after construction and suggested ways to minimize traffic

  • assisted in conducting surveys to discover what consumers preferred in a remodeled Martha’s

  • assisted in photoshopping the renderings of different views

  • used Vray and material editor on the Sketchup model

  • assisted in creating the 3D model


Cornell Dining to presented us with the task of creating a modernized rebranding of Martha’s Cafe. The Express station located at an entrance of Martha Van Rennsalaer Hall would replace the Cafe’s traditional role as it went under renovation. Our basic goals were to design a new logo, menu, packaging, and restaurant space.

our concept and client reception:

Naturally better: a fresh take on balancing innovation and tradition in order to create a more sustainable Martha’s. Our client decided to take our consumer behavioral analysis into consideration and create overhead signs to direct traffic around the busy space.

Partners: Abigail Lerner and Vivian Shiu


Our group focused on integrating the client's wishes with feedback from Human Ecology students and workers. Since Martha's had been established in 1913, its logo became a trademark for Martha Van Rennsalaer Hall. As students of the College, we felt the need to find a balance between modern and traditional styles of branding to evoke the a similar, but revitalized essence of Martha's. 

We began with a survey to discover style preferences and behavioral patterns. These results informed our decisions to optimize experience.

Next, we performed multiple iterations of developing a brand for the new Martha's Express beginning with the logo. We decided on a mix between the cursive style of the old Martha's logo and more modern fonts. We wanted to create a recognizable icon for branding and focused on creating the 'M' into the shape of a fork.

The evolution of our redesign of the original Martha's logo (left). Our initial logo (middle) was too industrial; it did not reflect the values of liveliness and sustainability central to Martha's Express. Our final logo (right) is more dynamic and engaging, incorporating fresh and lighter tones, with a marketable fork icon.


The finalization of our logo provided a foundation for the rest of our branding in packaging, menu, and environmental design. To view our full project proposal, click here.


For packaging, we used our fork for an efficient way to accentuate our brand. Since Martha's Express is more of a fast-food/'food to-go' restaurant, students would show the fork icon around campus and bring more attention to Martha's. We created different versions of stickers to be placed on sustainable, recyclable food containers, as well as printed designs on soup containers. 

Our menus include watercolor drawings of ingredients in a standard French style layout to make it easier for customers to identify which item they would like. We also included a grab and go menu, since those products would be displayed underneath the cash register (per the client's wishes) and increase crowding. It is a magnetic board so that workers can easily change what items are available for the day.

Finally for the environmental design of the space, we incorporated wood tones and a plant wall to support Martha's fresh and natural values. The space had previously been a white, simple, hallway with fluorescent lighting; we revitalized the space by incorporating nature. We also added overhead signs to aid navigation during busy school hours.

behavioral analysis | navigating the space:

My role in the group was to perform a behavioral analysis of how the space would operate with our new changes.

To optimize experience based on our previous research findings, we concluded that:


  • People choose what they want while they're in line.

    • Menus should be simple & readable.                     

  • Students are concerned about flow and movement.

    • Lines should minimize traffic and interference.     

  • People look at grab & go options, then decide.

    • Crowding around the register should be reduced

  • Users prefer a modern & organic style and a verdant color scheme. 

  • Hanging signs are more noticeable for customers than stickers on the floor (which were the client's original plan).

  • The doors entering the Commons study space should be closed unless people are going through.

    • This will minimize sound leakage.

  • Entrances shown in the floorplan will experience heavier traffic while MVR is under renovation


The Martha's Express rebranding project gave me the best learning experience during my freshman year. Not only did I become proficient in 3D modeling and photo-editing software, I learned more about using consumer feedback to provide a modern vision for a traditional classic. I personally enjoyed analyzing the space and consumer habits to influence how people would act in Martha's Express. This project was my first experience working in a group in the class. Within my group, I had a positive experience as we discussed, respected, and appreciated each other's ideas and roles, thereby making the project very rewarding.  As for areas of improvement, I aim to improve in the presentation of group ideas, focused around a better concept. I still believe there are improvements to be made in the rendering quality, aesthetics, and functionality of the space, but am overall satisfied in the outcome.