Rebranding a Restaurant: Designing the Logo

Published on January 30, 2012 under Marketing, Business

Drawing a logo

Now that we've defined the new branding of Illusion Bar • Grill • Café, a new logo would be the next order of business. It will also be a first for this business since it's not had a proper logo since opening ten years ago. I'm pretty sure they're not the first business to do that either.

Today I'm going to take you through my own process on how I like to design logos and share my own thought process on the logo I ended up designing for Illusion Bar • Grill • Café. I'm not sure if my process is the right way, but hopefully my experience here will help you grow in how you come up with logos for your clients. I also urge you to share any insight you have in the comments section.

A logo isn't the brand in itself, but it should be a shining symbol of said branding. It should speak out to the image and emotion you want to portray of that business. It's why companies will spend millions for the right logo, even if it just looks like their name written in a basic font.

Logo design has always been a harder task for me. I attribute this to the fact that I have had no formal design training. In my opinion though I look at designing logos as a difficult task in itself, but you tend to get better at it the more you do it. I think anyone wanting to work in design, even web design, should read up what they can find on designing logos and make attempts at it with clients who are in need of one.

Start with research

The best way to start is to just go on Google and start doing searches for businesses similar to the one you're working for. It doesn't matter if they are not located in your area. They just might have done things that you can gain inspiration from. I have looked at websites of logos for ideas, but found they don't do it for me. It's hard to get ideas for a bar/restaurant/cafe when you're looking at logos for oil companies and financial services companies.

So I searched terms like "irish pub", "european cafe", and "european bar" to start. I'd look at websites that came up as well as added "logo" to those search terms and look inside Google Images. I found a lot and saw the patterns and styles other designers have used in designing branding for such businesses.

I ended up pulling down images of about ten logos from different businesses and went from there.

Come up with a few concepts

I've never been a fan of clients who say "I want to see three different concepts" when it comes to layouts. I will go into grave detail on why in a future entry, but I'll simply say right now that it can become a waste of time and money on the part of the designer. However, when it comes to logos, this is where I agree with the idea of multiple concepts.

Making a few concepts of a logo will help you explore different possibilities on how you want to sell this business to the public. Plus if you did enough research, you should have a few ideas you wish to explore as well. Something like this is ultimately the decision of your client, so giving him a few options will show you put the thought in, and it will help you both reach an understanding on the direction of this project.

The initial three logo concepts
Click to enlarge

So I came up with three concepts based on different ideas:

The first concept was based on how many hip restaurants and bars go for a sleek, contemporary look. I wanted to pull away from both the look and feel I'd see on most sports bars as well as from the typical swoopy/scripty fonts I'd see used in other European-style cafes. The large ellipse also would make the copy stand out more when it's placed on flyers, signage, etc.

The second concept was inspired by a logo I saw for a Tiki bar in Florida. The bar's logo was more a "bamboo" rough looking font, but I liked how they had one big word with a sense of slant and direction and then smaller words underneath. I toyed around with several fonts and eventually came up with this one. I liked that it read nicely and also added a small touch of femininity to the branding, as reaching out to female consumers was one of the goals of the new brand.

The third concept is more masculine, if you haven't noticed. While most sports bar logos tend to look like old carnival-style lettering that makes you think of the glory days of baseball, the newer more "yuppie" spots tend to play with big bold lettering. It's clean, clear, and stands out. It also doesn't speak to any one ethnicity, thus trying to remove some of the "Eastern Bloc" vibe consumers know of Illusion.

You also might have noticed I made my three concepts in black and white. This is my own personal style and taste when I make logos. I'm a fan of logos that aren't tied to select colors and treatments. I know with many clients you won't have this freedom, as they'll want select colors and treatments used, but if you can, go for the simple. Sell a shape. You can look at the Coca-Cola swirl or Nike Swoosh in any color and you'll know what it is. That to me is great because it gives designers freedom to lay materials out and make the logo work with the color scheme of the piece.

Narrowing it down

In many cases, you might not reach this step, but in my case, the client was torn between two logos. What I did next is something you might want to consider if your client isn't sure on what to pick, or you want to show him/her more on how each logo could be utilized:

Concept 1 blown out into executions
Concept 2 blown out into executions

Click to enlarge

My client and his partner were torn between concepts one and two, so I blew them out into several different mock-up executions to give them more depth on how the logos could be used. These are not things I would hand off as "final work", but more to help them see the logos in action on many executions they would go through with.

The first image is an outside shot of the venue, only I took out their old sign and placed the logo there as if it were a new sign. The second image is a leather folder where one could imprint the logo in gold color...something they have on their own menus. The third is a girl with a black tank-top. The client does employ young pretty girls as his barstaff, so he could imagine his girls wearing tank-tops with his logo on them.

The last three images are mocked-up flyers for different types of events that would happen in the venue. The first being a flyer for NFL and college football viewing with specials. The second is more a flyer for the upcoming Euro Cup Tournament, but it could also represent a flyer advertising European sports. The third mock-up is of your typical DJ dance party flyer, for when the client wants to bring DJs out to play music in the evenings.

And the winner is...

The final logo for Illusion Bar-Grill-Cafe

The final concept that the client picked made me happy because it was the one I liked the most. I feel this concept speaks completely to the brand. It can speak to men and women, European and American, anyone who wants to come. It can work for sports marketing and other entertainment.

The gold coloring and other treatments are what I ended up making for the website, but the client loved it so much he wanted to use it all over for other reasons. Still, I'm also happy he's not against other color schemes if the execution calls for it. In my opinion, it's a versatile logo that will work in all sorts of executions.

What did you think of my process? Would you have done things differently?

Tags: business, rebrand, marketing, logo design, illusion bar grill cafe

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