This coming weekend I'm heading to the National Restaurant Association show down at McCormick Place here in Chicago. The "Food Show" is always a fun event to attend, as I've been able to go in the past as a guest with some of the food service management I used to work with when I attended Taylor University. During college, as part of my student loan work program, I spent 4 years in the Dining Commons… and probably learned more about management and leadership than I'd ever learn from books today.

In any case, this year is a bit different as I'm attending on behalf of that good ole beverage review site I run, That site launched as a "proof of concept" in summer 2007 and has actually done pretty well against the goals we had in place. So last year I had to make some decisions regarding the future of the site. After all, BevReview is a "side project" beyond my regular job doing the Web Producer thing for Kidology. Upon discussing options with my partner Nicko Sahlas, who runs, we looked at either continuing to do things 'as is' or try to take it to the next level. I chose the latter.

Stock photos of bottles can only take you so far

Part of that strategy has been to actually develop an identity, logo, and "look & feel" for BevReview as we increase the site's visibility. We're now interacting with quite a few companies on a professional level, reviewing new products, running contests, etc. In addition, when it comes to readership, I really wanted to differentiate the site to reflect a consumer-friendly/advocate point of view and push forward the idea of online community — something that I've always felt was important when working online.

Our friends at Hexanine

The first salvo in this strategy was working with Tim Lapetino and his design/identity firm Hexanine to come up with a brand for BevReview. The output of that collaboration is starting to be seen via the business cards I'll be taking with me to the food show this weekend, as they feature a new logo and look for the BevReview brand. Eventually, we'll be deploying these elements to the site itself and our social media extensions, but I wanted to provide you with a little "preview."

There's more to come, so stay tuned!