Hookah.com has been in the business for the past 8 years. Their previous platform (which resembled Amazon’s 2004 website) looked rather verbose, cluttered & didsn’t resonate well with Millenials / Gen-Z users, which is the emerging economic group of 21st century. Furthermore, many similar competitor sites began to revamped their looks to enhance their contents presentation, as well as their approach in marketing their services.
The challenge is to utilize & maximize Hookah name to create a flexible brand identity that feels, cohesive regardless of the marketing media - from ATL to BTL. Aside from its’ advantage as a marketplace (less financial risks since there's no inventory), Hookah.com’s brand positioning strategy are being established to create a sense of trust & act as a foundation between retailers & consumers at targeted countries.
In 2016, Monitoring the Future survey found that 17% high school students in U.S.had engaged in vape-related activites hookah within past year. Other smaller studies found high prevalence of hookah among college students in the U.S., ranging from 22-40%. For many college students, hookah bars are simply places to socialize.
In 2011, Science Daily reported that 40.3% of students — over 1/3 of the participants surveyed at eight North Carolina universities — had smoked hookah at least once.
As a noun, ‘Hookah’ searches are not webpages, but rather broad search terms that include the word hookah. Vape and Hookah smokers are yet to have a need in to search because there's no established platform.
Hence, the brand attempts to resonate with consumers who have vaped, used hookah, & those who’re interested to vape as their recreational activities. Hookah.com will be a global domain, hence the brand has to be inclusive for upcoming generations of responsible hookah users.
To capture the essence of simplicity & timelessness, we attempted to fuse Hookah’s initial letter with the prevailing element that exists as the byproduct of every vaping / hookah products: smoke - to reflect the language of responsible fun. The trademark blue was inherited from the previous Hookah.com color scheme to radiate the sense of familiarity of the beloved platform - opening up to whole new visual rejuvenation.
The new logo is represented with minimalist, smokey stroke resembling the letter 'H'.
ON THE SITE
The whole platform was designed with one intention for both parties (seller & buyers) - that is to browse & purchase any products from any dispensaries as simple as possible. Site architecture wise, we wanted to highlight several categories such as 'Top Grossing Stores', 'Product Of The Day' and free promotional products on weekly basis - as one part of user acquisition strategy. My task was to build mockups for both sides of the platform - The main website, and the Dashboard for seller.
Nevertheless, understanding that this line of business may not be totally legal at some states, the platform enforced obligatory KYC screening to vet potential purchasing users. Hookah.com service is planned to be limited to certain markets / countries that regulates the aforementioned products.
As the project scaled, we decided we needed to build reusable components & design spec to accelerate dev team's work. The intention to create a design system in the form of components is to provide cohesiveness throughout the site, hence enable site visitors to be familiar with Hookah.com UI pattern. Inspired by *cough* Airbnb's design system library. *cough*
We took a lot of inspiration from existing online marketplaces while tweaking it to make it more legible in the sense that Hookah.com can be a bridge of trust between consumer & sellers - given its' nature of business. Both the site & app is currently under development.