The National Restaurant Association began looking into a brand re-fresh or brand re-design in late 2011. As art director, under the leadership of our SVP of marketing and communications and with other brand and marketing leadership, I was design lead for our internal team chosen to work on the project. In setting our early direction and foundation, we worked with Fleishman-Hillard.
A primary directive of re-branding was to corral our many sub-brand assets. The organization had many recognizable products and services (within the restaurant industry), but they generally did not reflect back to the parent brand and proper credit was not received. Another directive was that the new identity needed a certain abstractness. Many, when hearing of the project, expect to see a fork or knife or bowl used as a design element. The industry that the Association serves is much broader than those elements: makers, suppliers, fast food, fine dining, hot dog stands ... organizational leadership felt strongly that our identity could not single any segment out. This led to an "icon" based architecture -- using an element that could affix to any of our brands and still work with each brand's topic base.
Base design for the final logo was done by a designer that had worked with one of the Association's state affiliates -- it was great to keep it "in the family." The rings are suggestive of plates, but abstract enough that many restaurant-related things could be seen -- and we used that concept in a brand unveil video.
The star logo was created in the late 1980s. What worked in its day was felt to be static today where movement is so important in things like video. Also, for an organization that had made large changes to it's mission and structure a new identity was thought to be the best signifier of that.
A primary purpose of the new brand was to scale it across our family of brands. We not only applied the new identity to all existing brands, but we also took the opportunity to trim the fat and cut or merge some brands. An incomplete brand scheme shown below shows off the fractured nature of the old identity.
The updated brand tree shows the connectedness of all brands. A comprehensive style guide, in development, promotes the same rules and design elements across all materials for a flexible but connected visual identity.
The designer we started with was inspired by ringed elements in an early National Restaurant Association logo -- from the 1920s. Out of numerous concepts received we received from him, the connection made this idea stand out.