Designing a restaurant logo – a guide for restaurant owners

Prepared by business owners for business owners

When it comes to designing restaurant logos, the whole process starts with a simple but fundamental notion: knowing your target audience. Only then you will be able get a better grip on the things you want to achieve with your project.

Once you establish that, you’ll have to accept the big, painful truth that will stick with you through every single step of the project:

Creating a perfect logo design is impossible

It doesn’t matter if you’re an old veteran who has been working in the business since the Stone Age or an absolute beginner learning the ropes – you will never be able to design something that will appeal to every consumer on this planet.

Many designers push themselves too far, trying to come up with something that will surprise, shock, make the audience laugh or bring them to tears – and all in one single logo!  

Not surprisingly, the end result will probably look like something from a child’s nightmare.

How to start the designing process?

It’s pretty straightforward actually – brainstorm and lay down the fundamentals for what you would like to achieve with your project.

If you’ve been wondering how to create successful, impressive business logos, this article will solve all your doubts. You will learn about the features of some the most recognizable restaurant logos and characteristics of the most valuable restaurant brands. You will see what kind of amateur mistakes you have to be wary about during the logo creation process.  

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Learning from the best

Analyzing some of the most impactful logos leads to the conclusion that… they are all very simple in nature, relying on basic, geometrical shapes and a limited palette of colors. Don’t be fooled, however – the knowledge and skills that are necessary to create some of them are not to be underestimated.

If this concept seems hard to grasp, take a look at the McDonald’s logo – they golden arcs are known all over the world. Simple, but genius.

The best doesn’t have to mean the most popular.

A logo doesn’t have to be the most recognizable image on the planet to be successful. In fact, there are examples of great, small business, restaurant logos all around you.

This logo of a Spanish food restaurant doesn’t rely on geometrical shapes to be effective. The simple and easily recognizable drawing of a bull is immediately associated with Spain and the additional fish resolves any doubts, whether the logo is in any way connected to food business.

3 golden principles of logo design

As we have already established, simplicity rules. Not surprisingly, the basic principles that apply to logo design process are also very basic. Nonetheless, they will certainly distinguish your logos from your competitors.

  • 1

    Simplicity

    Logos don’t have to be flashy and extremely in-your-face to catch someone’s interest. Simple designs are impactful, because our brains don’t have to spend an eternity to process a bunch of distracting shapes and colors in front of us.

    Take a look at the Ravioli’s logo design. The ribbon-like shape and limited usage of colors make the logo stand out from the unimaginative crowd of needlessly elaborate and chaotic designs.

  • 2

    Memorability

    Some of the most profitable logo designs get stuck in your head in a glimpse of a second, whether you like it or not. And that’s everything any restaurant would ever want. This part doesn’t come easy and requires a broad and precise brainstorm process to narrow down your target audience, taking into consideration your niche specifics.

    If, by any chance, you have never encountered the Starbucks logo (you would probably have to live on the Moon to achieve that), the design itself should leave an everlasting impression. Although not that simple, the outlines of a mermaid character and the green tint make the logo unique and difficult to confuse with anything else.

  • 3

    Timelessness

    Effective and real money-making logos don’t age. Ever. In order to create a logo that will whist stand the test of time, you will need lots of experience and skill. And that doesn’t come cheap or easy.

Failure-proof advices for restaurant logo designs

Create something that’s easy to remember

If you’re wondering, if your logo does the job and leaves a long-lasting impression, try this exercise: show it to someone, who hasn’t seen the logo before and then ask him/her to describe it in a few sentences. If you’ve managed to design something memorable, the request shouldn’t be a real problem.

Pragmatism beats originality (in most cases).

And while we’re at it, you don’t need extra fluff in your logo that just… sits there for no particular reason.  Remove everything unnecessary until the point, where your logo still conveys your key message.

The less, the better – Say no to more than 3 colors

You don’t see many color-crazy logos flying around, and for good reason. Trying to mash dozens of tints and shades into one single design leads to confusion. Color psychology is a real thing. It affects our emotions on the subconscious level. Unless you absolutely know what you’re doing, try not to light up your design like a Christmas tree.

This logo of a Mexican restaurant is the perfect example of limited color usage. Additionally, the coloring is heavily tied to strong and intense emotions (and the same could be said about the Mexican food in general).

Stick to 2 typefaces at most

It’s the same story as with colors – the shape of your font says something about your business and conveys emotions. Soft, blurry lines and curves are ideal for companies that rely on subtle characteristics – likea restaurant that serves food for children. On the other hand, sharp lines and angles could be a good match for a logo aimed at people doing sports or teenagers.

The typefaces used in this logo are pretty distinct. The soft curves stay in harmony with the main image, underlining the eastern and the out-of-the-ordinary tone of the restaurant.

 

Make your logo look good no matter the format

If you want to appear professional, you need to have your logo look good in every shape and form. Sometimes it needs to be reduced in size, enlarged or undergo a color inversion process.

Imagine that your design includes many small and precise graphical elements. Yes, it might impress your website’s visitors, but what would happen if you decided to print it on your business card? Marketing material for ants – that’s what.

Don’t put too much trust in other people advices

Most people think of themselves as experts on every subject they stumble upon – doesn’t matter, if its politics, new trends…. or logos. The thing is, the chances that your good-old grandma knows more about your business and your clients than you are pretty slim (to say the least).

Good advices only go so far, don’t be naive and stick to what you think is best. Brainstorm and analyze the key values of your company, narrow down your targets and design the logo yourself. Or hire a professional who will do all the hard work for you.

Avoid stock photography and don’t “borrow” other people’s images

No matter how you call it – borrowing or basing your design on someone else’s work – will put you in trouble (and in the worst case scenario, the court).

When it comes to stock photography and clip arts: we get it, you don’t have much funds. But spending your money on a logo is an investment for the future. Unless you want to pack your bags and shut your business down, avoid stock graphics. Instead, create something unique and memorable.

Break any rule, if it suits your goals

There are exceptions to every rule and the same applies to logo. You might have stumbled upon on some really weird, but captivating designs. Here’s an example:

This decorative logo is everything but simple. The delicate, complex flower motives and the typefaces underline the oriental character of the restaurant and momentarily catch viewer’s attention.

So what’s the rule of thumb here?

Well, if you know what you’re doing, you could go for something out-of the ordinary. But if you’re still learning, stick to simple and straightforward designs (or hire someone who knows his job).

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4 most common logo design mistakes

No matter how experienced you are in the field of logo design, it takes only a second to make a glaring mistake that might cost your business a lot of money. The rule also applies to companies that professionally design such images (let’s be honest, you get what you pay for).

This is why it’s a good idea to learn about some of the most common mistakes that one might make during a logo design process. You’ll be able to tell the difference between rookies and people who know their job.

  • 1

    Designing in raster graphics

    This is perhaps the most amateur mistake there is. If you want to design an image with stable business growth in mind, do it using vector graphics software.

    Why? Well it’s simple. If you decided to prepare a logo using, let’s say, Adobe Photoshop, the final design would be based on pixel graphics. Essentially, it would make it impossible to scale the logo later on and its quality would certainly decrease. Just imagine the horrible, pixelated image put somewhere on a poster – it would scream “I’ve been designed by amateurs.”

    Vector graphics, on the other hand, are based on vectors –control points that are connected with each other, forming a graph. While enlarging an image, the software calculates the estimated space between those points without a decrease in quality.

  • 2

    Using monograms is a trap

    Creating monograms from the business owner’s initials is generally a bad idea. The point is, although this technique seems so clever and crafty at first, it fails to establish and build the brands image. The initials are simply sitting there and don’t really serve a bigger purpose – the space could be used by other, more meaningful elements or simply…. left blank (remember about simplicity and its impact).

    The same rule applies to acronyms embedded into your logo. An acronym is a word created as an abbreviation from the initial elements of another word or phrase, usually as individual letters (like KFC, for instance).

    Great idea to use in your own logo, right? Contrary to popular belief, the technique fails flat, unless you’re one of the big names in your niche. So if you’re not head and shoulders above your competitors and your name isn’t recognizable on the spot, forget about acronyms.

  • 3

    Theft and using other people’s work

    It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but in the age of internet, the meaning of “theft” and “intellectual property” has become somewhat blurry. Nonetheless, basing your work on someone else’s logo or simply modifying some of its elements will get you in trouble – sooner or later.

    What’s more, this will eventually tarnish your reputation and destroy your brand’s image that you’ve been carefully trying to build over the years. Not to mention all the money you will lose if the case lands in court.

  • 4

    Mistakes and technical glitches

    The final logo design should be completely error-free. By error-free we mean, that the elements used in the image should be finished and precise: all the curves smooth and built on a minimal amount of connecting points, objects symmetrical and no overlapping lines.

    In other words, the final product should look good whether you scaled it up and put on a massive billboard, or minimized everything and printed on your business cards.

Bonus tip: the file you receive at the end of the designing process should be compact and relatively small. Nothing more irritating, than downloading a massive chunk of data that is unfit for uploading and sharing over the internet.

Summary

Designing an impactful restaurant logo is no small feat. As with all business and marketing related traits, setting precise goals will help you decide on the fundamentals of your future logo.Knowing that, it’s equally important to follow the three principles of logo design: simplicity, memorability and timelessness.

The designing process will take significantly less time, if you follow some practical tips that will let you avoid future problems with the project. The article covered some of the most helpful advices:

  • Creating something that’s easy to describe
  • Sticking to 3 or less colors
  • Using only 2 different typefaces
  • Designing the logo to fit all the formats
  • Not taking advices from people with no experience
  • Avoiding stock graphics
  • Breaking the rules if necessary

We also mentioned some of the most glaring mistakes a designer can make:

  • Designing using raster graphics software
  • Using monograms and acronyms
  • Stealing other people’s work
  • Finishing the project with technical glitches

We hope the guide has helped you get a better idea about creating an impactful restaurant logo (or spot a bad one before it’s too late). Remember, that the lists we presented are not final, by any means. They could always be expanded, so if you have some interesting feedback, please share with us in the comment section below!