Scratch N Sniff
Branding Design

National Restaurant Association

Redesigning the logo for the National Restaurant Association

National Restaurant Association - Chicago Office
Tools Used:

The National Restaurant Association was conducting a branding initiative to develop a consistent branding structure that supported both current and future programs/brands. The objective was to create a visual identity that can be utilized both for the parent National Restaurant Association brand and for all sub-brands

The deliverable was brainstorming. The goal was to create a visual element that can be “owned” by the NRA  evoking a positive emotional response among target audiences. More abstract than literal, it was to represent the restaurant industry and the spirit of hospitality. Over-reliance on forks, knives, spoons or plates was to be avoided but some concepts needed to show a refinement of the  star and swoosh by making them feel more warm and less political

The new identity needed to bring an essence of "opportunity and success" with a positioning that the NRA was there to protect and be an advocate for growth in congress:  to be truth worthy, an expert, in-the-know, connectedly passionate, committed, innovative yet hospitable and welcoming. The biggest obstacle was time — there wasn't any. The in-house art team (ok — he) was stretched to the limit. They needed ideas that were fresh and from an outside perspective... and they needed it yesterday. There was meeting in Washington scheduled to discuss the new ideas and prepare a presentation strategy

Ready... Set... GO... BRAINSTORM

I had 48 hours to turn over concepts in two rounds — and not to exceed 16 hours of billable time. My initial thought was this: do we have to keep the stars? The previous logo looked really political and not connected to the industry is served. The NRA is a pact organization that worked on legislation in the nation's capitol, I felt it needed to differentiate itself from other pacts and represent more of the service that the industry provides — serving food. The answer was "Yes," the stars had to stay

Best Suggestion

Can't we show a plate? Foods is served — not always on a fine china but a plate is ubiquitous with serving food. Silver wear or cutlery is not. (Think chop sticks or eating a bagel). A can be as abstract as a circle or represent cloche, a cloud of steam in a kitchen or a rainbow of hope. The initial response to the question was a little lukewarm. In the end, I presented  concepts I was proud of and spoke to a wide range of needs in the industry

The Result

What evolved from the concepts did indeed lack stars and strips. The directors at the Washington office saw my vision and where it could go. Ultimately, they took were element and pieces. They liked stressing the word restaurant, agreed with ditching stars, and while a plate or a cloche is not inclusive of all members, it resonates with everyone as part of service and food. The architecture was simple enough to work with the sub-brands. The top 4 subs are shown but there are many. It was rolled out and has been quite successful... to a point. The biggest detractor is this that the NRA keeps getting confused with the National Rifle Association... just a small problem


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