M-N Associates Draw Inspiration from the Ubiquitous Stool For Guta Cafe Refresh

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In the Vietnamese city of Siagon, many start their day with a strong cup of really tasty coffee, street-side and sitting atop a small stoop seen all over the city. The small plastic chairs are an iconic symbol of Vietnam's rich street food culture.

M-N Associates have tapped into the symbolism of the humble stool to form the base of the brand refresh of Guta Cafe, incorporating other common elements found street side, such as the yellow and blue from the commonplace Social Security posters. The new system can also be utilized in Guta's noodle and convenience store brand extensions.

Deriving inspiration from the unique Vietnamese street culture, Guta Cafe grows to be a familiar coffee brand for urban people could connect and enjoy the outdoor environment. Focusing on responsive and affordable store setup, they have grown fast, dominating Saigon, and become one of the most popular convenient coffee chains for everyone in the city.


Guta comes from Vietnamese verbal slang, from "gout /gu/" in French and "ta" in Vietnamese, and when combined means "our style". Representing its brand spirit, Guta Cafe proudly serves a good and strong Vietnamese coffee. Street-coffee has become a fundamental habit not just in Saigon but all over Vietnam. Underneath that street coffee culture is always a "plastic chair." A small stoop, these versatile, stackable chairs can turn any sidewalk into a cafe.

The graphic system is centered around the humble stool, along with the common elements and people found in Siagon street cafes to create an identity that speaks to Guta's roots.

Color Palette

Inspired by the iconic Vietnam Social Security propaganda posters hanging everywhere around the country, the blue and yellow combination palette was adapted for Guta. The color palette was chosen to represent the idea of Guta Cafe being "a friend to every worker" in a similar spirit to the poster's slogan.


Many Vietnamese start their day setting up their stool under a shade and surrounded by greenery, with a cup of coffee and a newspaper. After finishing their news and coffee, they start hanging out with others or are ready for the workday.

The halftone printing effect on newspapers was used to represent the different kinds of people that sit on plastic chairs around the country, from office workers to lady hawkers. All together, reflecting a unique yet familiar culture of Vietnam street coffee for Guta's philosophy.

Every character was selected carefully and representing a wide range of different characters from young to old, from blue-collar to white-collar. Each character with a unique pose expresses their personalities and broadens the brand's visual identity. Together, the visualization and color palette create a unique yet consistent brand expression easily adapted and extended according to marketing purposes.


Featuring the chair and Vietnamese diacritical marks, we developed a custom font named after Guta, FONTA (our font), only for the extension of Guta child brands and special communication tools. After their successful rebranding, Guta has been growing, going from several stores to nearly 60 stores around the city, and opened new child brands like PHỞTA (Phở noodle) or CHỢTA (convenient local store).


We completely renovate art direction and communication design inspired by the hole on top of the plastic chair, giving the menu a refreshing presentation for in-store, website, and even printed takeaway ones.


To achieve comfort and functionality when serving outdoor in humid, sunny weather, the uniform was designed with a minimal basic 4D light T-shirt complimented with shorts. In detail for branding, there's an upside-down pocket symbolized for the A-chair symbol.


For collecting and marketing purposes, we created a wide range of branded goods like keychain tags, phone cases, socks, helmets, tumblers, lunch boxes, and even lighters.


Bronze Cube — 99th Annual ADC Awards, Typography

Merit Winner — The One Show 2020, Branding / Identity System

Award of Excellence — 11th Communication Arts Typography Annual



Design firm M — N Associates

Creative Director Duy — N

Art Director Anh Nguyễn​​​​​​​

Designer Anh Nguyễn​​​​​​​, Quân Nguyễn​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Producer Quân Nguyễn​​​​​​​​​​​​​​, Đức Ngô

Project Manager M — Lan


Portfolio Photography Wing Chan

Menu Photography Đức Bùi

Menu Stylist Meo Thùy Dương

Character Photography Hậu Lê & Cua Studio

Store Photography Lâm Uy Huỳnh

Documentary @mundaneveryday

Models Trí Nguyễn, Phương Vy

Digital Retoucher An Nguyễn


Uniform Design Phi Phạm & M — N Associates

Brand Video

Cinematography Lâm Uy Huỳnh

Concept / Editor Duy — N

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