Sometime during the last quarter of 2013, I was referred by a friend to take on a re-branding of an Emirati owned food stall. Their business has been on for 2 years until they have realized that they needed some spice to their marketing so they felt the need to rebrand.

This was their old branding:

I can’t say that it was bad but I can’t say that it’s that good either.

By far, this has been the most stressful project I have ever dealt with, not because of its complexity but because of the timeline. The only thing I have in mind during that time was I wanted something nice to add on my portfolio. To be honest, I’m not even sure if I can pull it off. The clients have only given me 30 days to work on the project.  And 30 days didn’t really mean 30 days since I have a full time job. During the time of working on this project I was basically working 24 hours and I’m not exaggerating. This is a freelance work so I was trying my best to squeeze it in my busy office work schedule. After office hours, I can’t imagine how I was able to meet my clients twice or thrice a week during work days. I was based in Dubai so after work (which is at 6PM), I was taking the bus to commute to Abu Dhabi. It was a tedious back and forth from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. There was this one time where I have arrived Dubai at 4am (paid 400dhs to the taxi driver from AUH to DXB) and I have to wake up for work again at 6am.  It was one of my “limitless” moments. I still managed to drag myself to go to work but I was literally brain dead and I think I had 2 pitchers of coffee that day, not to mention my clients were still bugging me almost every hour during that zombie day to follow up on their requests. But I am in no position to complain since before accepting the project I have already foreseen that this will happen so the blame is all on me. It was also almost Christmas time so my workload in the office was massive. SO IT WAS TWICE THE FUN. P.S. I know this intro is so nega but I’m being honest and thou shall not judge a post by it’s intro. I swear it’s all positive in the end (and y’all learn something from it). :)

On a side note, it’s funny and ironic that I was awarded the Employee of the Month on my full time job that time. I’m not bragging, I just feel that I’m not deserving since I was often absent minded during those times due to stress and lack of sleep but I’m thankful since I received extra money. (la lang just had to say.. haha)

For this project, I just want to reiterate that I’ve dealt everything ALONE – from CONCEPT TO COMPLETION and that includes designing, doing mockups, presenting to clients, dealing with multiple printing companies (most stressful part!), signage companies, tailors (for the uniforms of their staff), packaging suppliers, plastic suppliers and MORE. There was this instance where I was trying to find a company that will print some signages at 11pm  because the clients said that they need it at 8am tomorrow morning. Seriously, I felt like I’m opening my own restaurant.

In the world of freelancing, 98% of time, clients do not know what they want and they will just provide you with very vague concepts and ideas. It’s very frustrating but you need to handle it like a pro and help them think what they want. I do this by creating a CREATIVE BRIEF. A creative brief is basically a document containing the details of a project. It’s like a sufficient overview like the ABSTRACT on your thesis.  If they can’t provide me one, I’ll do one. So let me share you what I did.

So from that creative brief, I started to brainstorm, create multiple mockups etc.

I remember working until sunrise to finish the mockups and designs. To be able to do the mockups, I had to visit and spy on their competitors to get ideas, but it doesn’t mean I have to copy them. I just need inspirations on hand.

Pictured above are some of the mockups I did. I had to search different stationery suppliers just to find the brown paper or as we use to call it back home: Brown Manila Paper or Pandesal paper. I swear it’s so rare and expensive here! Out of 6 stationery shops I went to, I was only able to find it in Paperchase where it was bloody expensive and they call it  special eco paper. I asked the salesperson why it’s so expensive and she said “Because it’s environmental friendly.” WTH :(


It sucks printing mockups on your own just to show it to your clients because they can never understand PDF files. Sometimes they don’t even know how to open a PDF file, so sending them soft copies was never an option. I always had to print it from print shops and hand it over to the clients personally. Even if it’s just the bloody first draft. So costly so you better make sure to think it over when thinking about the price of the project.

Visiting suppliers. Signage companies etc.

This one, I never thought I will enjoy. :)) I’ve wandered and traveled around the dark places of Karama to find an affordable tailor. This is me trying to take samples from different tailors to show to the clients.

This is the thing about Dubai. The people here are so diverse. Dubai is a smorgasbord of cultures. It’s great but this also means different types of people and different languages to deal with. Based on my experiences, specially with dealing with suppliers, there is a huge number of workers here that barely speaks English and it is really a big challenge. Oftentimes you will think or tell you they understand all your instructions, but after giving you the final output, you will just want to facepalm yourself.

There were also a couple of times where my client will send me something like this through email with very vague instructions saying “Please create wall posters to be placed here. We need it ASAP.” and I will reply with “Sure, but I will need dimensions and images.” Then they will reply with unsure dimensions and “Can’t you just buy images for now and we will just replace them later.”  With emails like these, you gotta have lots of patience. It was all part of the learning curve.

But let me tell you that all the crap I’ve been through during the process were all worth it  in the end because the clients were so happy with the outcome, not to mention I was able to book my flight ticket home for Christmas and buy my own Macbook but that’s just the bonus part. Nothing comes close to being proud of your work and making your client feel satisfied to what they have paid you. The most rewarding part is I have  learned a lot. And when I say a lot, it really means A LOT.  I really want to thank my clients and the people who referred me this project. I want you to know that I’m very grateful for you guys to trust me to work on this project.   I am very much willing to do the same project again and to say the least, I am now sure that I can pull off “big time” projects like this on my own but I don’t want to kill myself so next time I will seek help, that way I can manage my time well and everything will be organized.

So there, so much for the long drama. I want you to have a look at my final outputs.

Along, with the packaging stuff, the clients also requested me to design their head office collateral which includes the letterhead, landing page, envelope, and business cards.

This is how I have designed their flyer menu. They said it’s so classy and chic. :)

These are the takeaway boxes.

burger boxes

Disclaimer: I do not own the last 13 photos. These photos were taken from @kebabznbunz instagram page and were submitted by their customers. But this is the outcome of all my sleepless nights. Looks Cool right? :)

Holiday newspaper ad.

bus stop ad

lamp ads

order counter

customers lining up

happy customers

takeaway ready to be picked up by a customer

menu flyer

busy staff preparing food in the kitchen

Look what I found on Zomato (restaurant review site). Yaay! Kiligers.

On a side note, if you think that just because you know how to use Photoshop then you can already call yourself a graphic designer, you might want to think again and reread this post. Graphic design is way way much more than PHOTOSHOP and besides based on my exp. Photoshop, though important, is rarely used, it was mostly Illustrator and Indesign. Honestly, during my first year working for the company as a graphic designer, I really didn’t have the balls to call myself a graphic designer. During that time, when people ask me what my job is, I tell them Marketing Assistant because the only software I know is Photoshop and I always had problems when it comes to pre press because i had no clue what bleeds and Pantones were! But thanks goodness it was all a thing of the past now. I studied on my own, spent most of my weekends in Kinokuniya reading graphic design books (because I can’t afford to buy them) and learned how to use Illustrator and Indesign from tutorials on Youtube and even though I’ve been working for almost 3 years as a graphic designer now, I admit and very much honest that I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn with regards to Graphic Design.

One lesson I have learned in the process of making this project is to never be afraid of taking risks. If you really want to achieve something, all the universe will conspire in helping you to achieve it, so never be afraid to try. I really never thought I can pull this off but I was able to because I pushed myself.

Kebabz and Bunz

instagram: @kebabznbunz (Their instagram page is so active that their customers keep on sending them pictures. So cool.)

facebook: http://facebook.com/kebabznbunz

website: http://kebabznbunz.com

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