Naming In The News

Consumer Restaurant Logo Survey Finds Simple Design Is Best

By Gregg Cebrzynski Nation's Restaurant News Magazine
May 2004

Minneapolis — Logos for fast-casual restaurants should be simply designed and easy to read but not so simple that they lose distinction and fail to communicate the restaurant concept to consumers, according to a new study by Strategic name Development, a brand name consultancy based here.

The firm conducted an online survey in January among 150 respondents, asking them such questions as whether a particular logo motivated them to eat at the restaurant, what types of meals they could expect there, and what type of concept a particular logo conveyed.

Survey participants made their comments after viewing logos from Baja Fresh, Briazz, Corner Bakery Café, Cosi and Potbelly Sandwich Works. The fast-casual segment, and the specific logos represent restaurants that "tend to be major players" in the segment, said William Lozito, president of Strategic name Development.

This is the first time the firm has analyzed logos, which Lozito said are often the only marketing device a restaurant has if it does little or no advertising.

The logos for Baja Fresh and Briazz show only the restaurant names in stylized type. Cosi's contains a sun-moon rendering next to its name. Corner Bakery includes a drawing of a portly baker with its name, and Potbelly features a potbellied stove in the center of its logo, with the restaurant name displayed above it.

Survey participants reported feeling most comfortable when viewing the Corner Bakery logo, which evoked "good feelings" and prompted respondents to say they'd be "confident" in eating there.

Corner Bakery received the highest score – 33 percent — of all five restaurants when respondents were asked whether the logo made them want to eat there. The score was surprising, "particularly in the carb-conscious world we live in," said Diane Prange, vice president of Strategic Name Development. "The name says 'bakery'; the guy is fat."

Baja Fresh scored the highest when respondents were asked which logos were easy to read and simply designed. They said the logo conveyed good-tasting food and, more important, healthful food, a comment that shows an interrelationship between the restaurant name and logo.

Respondents viewed the Briazz and Cosi logos as conveying "too much class" for the fast casual segment.

Although only 9 percent of respondents said the Potbelly logo made them want to eat there, "that's the only logo that tested positive for testosterone," Prange said. "It was seen as more masculine than feminine."

Logo design also influenced respondents' opinions on menu offerings. More than half assumed Baja Fresh, Briazz and Cosi offered ethnic foods. Nearly all respondents assumed Potbelly offered sandwiches.

In terms of how the logo affects consumer choice of meal occasions, 86 percent of the respondents said they would go to Corner Bakery for lunch and that 78 percent would return for dinner. More than 85 percent said they would eat at Potbelly and Baja Fresh for lunch. The majority of respondents picked Briazz and Cosi as dinner spots.

The survey also made a distinction between "descriptive" and "coined" names, Briazz and Cosi falling into the latter category. The survey found that the main advantage of a coined name is that its meaning can be defined over time, and the name still would be relevant even as the menu evolves.

A major finding of the survey was that the more stylized the logo is for a restaurant with a coined name, the less the customer understands the concept.

"Sometimes we can simply lose sight of simplicity," Lozito said, "Keeping it simple and clean leaves it easy for consumers to see what the establishments are."