Restaurant brand development

Protégé’s founders, Anthony Secviar and Dennis Kelly met while working at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, a prestigious three Michelin Star rated restaurant in California’s Napa Valley. They came to us with the bold vision of establishing a new restaurant brand built on world-class food and wine programs, and exceptional service.

Services Provided: Creative Direction, Branding and Identity, Restaurant Launch Consulting, Positioning and Strategy


The partners first identified a name to honor the passing of knowledge from teacher to student, an apt tribute to how they developed their mastery, and worked with our team to develop an authentic brand foundation. Once we identified and worked through the pillars that would help support a solid, differentiating identity, Protégé was ready for LESS+MORE to put brand visual and verbal expression to their vision.


Step one was articulating the brand vision for a very discerning audience of potential investors. We crafted a brand deck to bring the vision to life. With the deck, and a single private dinner prepared by Anthony and Dennis, the Protégé team secured a major portion of their funding.


Soon after the initial funding was in place, a downtown Palo Alto location was secured and the talented Jon de La Cruz was selected to design the interior space. We were off and running, identifying memorable ways to connect the brand to its audience, and tell its unique story. We provided early and frequent consultation, style boards, and concept decks to the interior design team, helping to create cohesion and the strongest brand experience possible.


Between funding, pre-opening, opening, and operating stages, we developed supporting materials for numerous touch points. We developed various collateral pieces, from the early investor presentations to branded wax paper. We aimed for an outcome that would be simple yet sophisticated, approachable yet exceptional–much like the experience of dining at Protégé.


The idea of leaving the partner’s personal touch on every aspect of the experience led to a concept for bespoke artwork. Custom illustrations, created by Rafael Arana, use quotes from Anthony and Dennis’ various mentors, laid out to create their individual thumbprints and telling of the journeys that led to Protégé.


Protégé opened with a well conceived and crafted brand identity. The unified execution of the partner’s vision is evident from the instant you enter. The interior design, artwork and branding all work together to offer a remarkable experience. We are currently working with photographer and chef Jim Sullivan to capture the details and story of the space. The various materials we created are playing key roles in supporting the ongoing, consistent marketing of this exciting addition to the San Francisco Bay Area’s dining scene.


“LESS+MORE has the innate ability to take our thoughts and process them into a unique message that really speaks to our core values. The work that the team has done for us in our marketing communications has empowered us to send an accurate, well crafted message to those we hope to reach. They are an amazing company that we would not hesitate to recommend.”

DENNIS KELLY, Partner at Protégé Palo Alto

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