Breathing new life into a Pacific Northwest mainstay for all things related to Japanese food and culture



Uwajimaya has been a trusted Asian grocery store in the Pacific Northwest for generations—known by many for their quality standards and large product selection. However, their business and brand have lagged behind as consumer behaviors continue to change. This new identity positions Uwajimaya as more of a lifestyle brand—highlighting its history while also elevating them to be the premiere destination for Asian food and culture.

Branding, Art Direction
Brand Guidelines ↗

Steve Watson

2018, Winter


A selection of branded materials showcasing the logomark and imagery.

What does it mean to be a high-end Asian grocer?

Initially I was wary of Uwajimaya wanting to become the "Nordstrom" of the Asian grocery store space—thinking this would mean losing their history and character in favor of nondescript design trends that would appeal to a wider, more westernized audience. However, I did acknowledge their need for a new identity that would help propel them into the future.


Uwajimaya founder, Fujimatsu Moriguchi in front of his first store in Seattle.

Taking inspiration from Uwajimaya's roots

Instead of avoiding this challenge of marrying historical authenticity with modern sophistication, I chose to take this head on and make this contrast the focal point of the brand. However, it was clear in my first iterations that the contrast was too forced in some areas while completely absent in others. I had yet to reach a level of understated dynamism that I had later arrived at towards the end of my explorations.


Uwajimaya's name comes from the city, Uwajima—the birthplace of its founder. Thus, I looked to prefectural flags for inspiration when developing my logomark.


Some logo sketches


The logomark with its subtle line work paired with the broadly set logotype. The open forms represent a community of newcomers and longtime patrons alike.

Selection of brand materials

By instead embracing this challenge of balancing warmth and familiarity with sophistication and modernity, I was able to create a unique visual language. The subtle juxtaposition between each visual element pairs together to create a sense of harmony.


Stationary is the identity's most subdued brand application.


Event posters highlighting special guests and cultural festivities.


A series of posters celebrating Uwajimaya's upcoming 90th anniversary.


The website displays important information up front to facilitate interest and learning.


Packaging is simple, allowing the quality of the items to speak for themselves.


A handy tote bag to carry all your fresh goods in.


The graphic simplicity, sophistication of photo style, and little hint of pop culture all come together to create a visual identity that both celebrates Uwajimaya's history and supports their ambitions of becoming a world-class, food and lifestyle brand.