Designing a restaurant logo – a guide for restaurant owners

Prepared by business owners for business owners

Your restaurant logo, if designed correctly, can help you attract new customers to your door. In this article you will learn how to create a great brand for your restaurant.

When it comes to gastronomy, a great logo can work better than an advertisement – just think of the potential number of eyeballs it can get in front of.

A big sign above the enterance is just the beginning. Your logo will be placed on your take-away bags and cups, menus, napkins, staff clothing, flyers… If you manage to create a solid, distinctive visual identity, people will recognize your logo on a street in a split-second, getting more and more curious to check out your food.

In this guide we will show you exactly how to do that.

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What are your plans?

Not all restaurants should get the same logo treatment. To keep things simple we decided to distinguish 2 very different scenarios.

  1. You want to create a local restaurant
  2. You want to create a global franchise restaurant chain.

Obviously, these aren’t the only scenarios. These are the opposites on the whole scale of expansion possibilities. You could plan on opening a couple restaurants – which would place you closer to number 1, or a national restaurant chain – which would bring you closer to number 2.

Here is the gist of it:

  • The closer you are to number 1, the more you should aim for distinctiveness.
  • The closer you are to number 2, the more you should aim for simplicity and memorability.
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Local restaurant

If you are opening a new, local restaurant, you have a challenge in front of you.

Nobody knows you and nobody cares.

That’s why your logo should convey:

  1. Distinctiveness, so that people quickly recognize you when they see your logo on a take-away bag, flyer, delivery car or an entry sign.
  2. Clarity – so that people know what kind of a restaurant you are. It is best to communicate the qualities that define you – whether it’s a cuisine style or price range that you offer.

Distinctive does not mean complex. It simply means different. Take a look at logos in your citiy. If most restaurants have a typograpy-based logo, go with typography + symbol. If all your competitors use toned-down color schemes, go with more saturated palette. It is common for local businesses to somehow resemble each other. Opening a business is always a bit risky, so people often copy what already works, leaving you some room to shine.

You should avoid complex logos. Rule of thumb is, your local restaurant logo should be easy to describe over the phone.

Here are some examples of great restaurant logos that are both distinctive and clear in their message. Can you tell what kind of cuisine they serve judging by the logos?

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    image21Italian flag, skilfully implemented in this logo, will catch an eye of everybody in love with Italian cuisine.

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    image35A restaurant serving beef and fish? No problem. These 2 symbols work together very nicely and fish blends in perfectly with the style of typography used in this logo

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    image24This 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).

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    image34The 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. If you’ve ever been to India – you’re going to recognize the colorful branding from the other side of the street in an instance

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    image20Thai restaurant has Thai vibe all over it. Again – it is aimed at lovers of Pad Thai. The color scheme, symbols – everything works here in favor of a distinctive and clear branding.

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    image33This 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.

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Here is our client, appetime – a very clear branding that tells exactly what they are all about.

Here is another project we created – a logo design for Bohemia – a beer restaurant.

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A restaurant chain

Restaurant chain logo is no joke. If you do it wrong – the costs of rebranding are going to be enormous. Consider a recent Subway rebranding. It’s been almost 2 years since they changed their logo, and a lot of franchises still have it the old way.

When it comes to restaurant chains, the most important thing is memorability. The mere exposure of your logo in all venues should accelerate your growth. When your potential clients travel to a different city, your logo needs to feel familiar to them.

How do you achieve memorability? With simplicity. Take a look at different logos of most popular US franchises, without their name on it. Chances are, if you are a US citizen, you should easily recognize most of them.

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The more popular your franchise – the simpler your logo can be (as in the case of fashion). Take a look at how McDonald’s logo progressed as their franchise chain grew in size.

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Notice how it became simpler and simpler as time went on? Notice how in year 2000 the name McDonald’s was dropped alltogether?

We can see a similar simplification in case of Domino’s Pizza

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Of course, your logo cannot consist of a mere symbol unless you already get recognized by an average pedestrian. Such move requires years of astronomically expensive exposure.

What is the solution then when you’re just starting out? What is the most effective approach to designing a franchise logo?

Work your way backwards from the final symbol that you would like to get recognized by when you’re successful. When you start, you will have a symbol, a name and, most likely, some description of your cuisine within your logo. As time progresses and you expand, you will drop the name altogether to create a solid brand for your franchise.

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Important rules for every restaurant logo

  • 1

    Your logo needs to look good in black and white.

    Most take-away bags are made of ecological paper and using black ink only. It helps with reducing costs and clients appreciate the eco-friendly image that your brand creates around itself.

    Not only that. Your logo will probably be displayed on transparent cups, which looks bad in color. Take a look at following example:

    image39

    Another use for black and white logo would be on receipts:

     

  • 2

    It should look good small or big

    Some logos just don’t work when you scale them down to small size. Too many details will do exactly that. Scalability is a must-have trait when it comes to logo design. Your logo should be recognized by visually-impaired people or people standing far away. It should look good on a big sign in front of your restaurant, as well as on pen.

    image25

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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.

Photography logo design

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.