The Meaning Behind Tocabe’s Branding and Design

posted by Allison Nuanes December 19, 2016

Yesterday, December 18, Tocabe marked its 8th anniversary in business. We are so proud to have been open this long – and not only that, but to have grown into a larger business with two restaurant locations, a food truck, and a burgeoning catering business in that time. Over the years Tocabe has grown and evolved – even our logo has matured from when we originally opened in 2008. So, we thought it would be fun to share the stories and meaning behind our branding and design efforts. We hope you learn something new about Tocabe as you read through this post!

Our Logo


If you have been a fan of Tocabe for at least 2 years, you probably noticed in 2015 when we made a big change to our original logo. At that time, we updated the look and feel of the logo, but it was very important to us to maintain some of the original elements and to integrate even more meaning into our logo.

The logo used to be dominated by three purple hands. The hand prints are a symbol of the three Osage villages – a symbol that carries much importance for Ben Jacobs and his family, who are members of the Osage tribe. When we re-designed, it was very important to us to keep the handprints, but we wanted to make the Tocabe name more prominent and bold.

While the handprints carry significant meaning and are easy to spot in our original and new branding, as well as in artwork in both of our locations, there is another element derived from the Osage tribe in the new logo that many people may never notice. If you take a close look, you will see that there are several triangular notches in the purple borders around the logo. These are meant to reflect the beautiful ribbonwork that is well known as an artform of the Osage people. Ben’s grandmother was a celebrated ribbonwork artist, and his mother Jan, who is an amazing ribbon worker herself, was recently honored as Native Artist in Residence at the Denver Art Museum, and had the chance to share her beautiful work with the Denver community. On our website, ribbon work design elements can also be found in the border of the pages, and the triangular notches throughout the design.

The Restaurant’s Interior Design


As with our logo, the interior design elements in our restaurants are intentional as well. The next time you walk into one of our Tocabe locations, look around and notice these elements.

The first thing you may notice is the textured vinyl wallcovering. This represents the tall grass of the planes of Oklahoma. As you walk down to the service counter you will notice a rock wall. This represents the land. Also, only at our 44th location you will find acrylic architectural elements hanging from the ceiling. These represent the clouds and wind. If you look through the acrylic it actually resembles the sun peering through clouds. You may also notice a few new design elements at our Greenwood Village location. For instance, the round lights above our high top tables, are a representation of hand drums and our brown floors are a representation of the dirt that makes up the Pawhuska dance arbor floor.

Even our paint colors were chosen carefully to represent different elements of culture and nature. On the walls you will find brown and beige paint . These colors represent drum skin and buckskin. Look up as you are eating your meal and you will see our deep purple ceiling. This is a regal color, and in our restaurants it represents the midnight sky. The green color on the soffit represents sage, which helps with purification and is found flavoring many of our dishes.

While all of these design elements may be subtle, they each have an important meaning and intention behind them. The next time you stop in with your friends you can be a Tocabe expert and share your new knowledge.

Additional Graphic Design Elements

food truck and dancer

In the summer of 2016 we launched our food truck onto the Denver scene, and with it came what we think is one of the most bold and recognizable food trucks in town. The truck is wrapped in our recognizable and eye-catching purple, and has an incredibly designed Osage dancer dominating the food service side of the truck. The straight dancer, was originally designed by Ryan RedCorn as a youth project with NVision in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Ryan made some slight modifications to the original design for us, and it is now a part of our branding portfolio. The dancer can also be found on the outer patio wall of our original location on 44th and Lowell Street in Denver. We look forward to announcing the dancer when it is incorporated in the Greenwood Village location as well.


We have been very lucky to work with Ryan RedCorn and his company Buffalo Nickel Creative on our branding and design elements for the past several years. They collaborated with us to create the beautiful logo we use today, as well as our website, our food truck design, and even our apparel that is sold in our restaurants and worn by our crew. It was very important to us that we work with another Indian owned business to truly showcase our brand in the most authentic way possible.

As we mark our 8th anniversary in business, and as we continue to grow as a company, it is our goal to always honor our community, traditions, and values in all aspects of the business – even down to the design. We hope this gives you a bit more insight into who we are and the thought that goes into all elements of Tocabe. Thanks for your continued support – we would not have made it these wonderful eight years without the support of our community!

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