When was the last time you ate at taco bell? Probably the last time you spent all day in an involuntary “meat” induced cleanse.
Let’s forget about their product for a moment to dive into the Taco Bell re-brand (2016). Why did they choose to go with a new look? According to the powerhouse brand agency, Lippincot, they wanted to create a modern identity that reflected their ever-changing and innovative menu as well as appealing to millenials who are demanding more and more from their favourite fast food restaurants. To announce these changes and show off the new look, Taco Bell also launched a new restaurant in Las Vegas — Taco Bell Cantina — a sit down restaurant that serves appetizers, beer, and booze infused slushies.
What does the new identity do well? It’s simplified (almost too simple) and is flexible enough to be applied to a variety of visual treatments. Check out a few of the patterns and effects that have been applied to the new logo:
This type of flexibility is something we should expect in modern design, and Lippincott nailed it. The choice of purple, while not my number one pick, is modern and unique when compared to their main competitors — the Burger Kings and McDonalds who've saturated the marketplace with run-of-the-mill primary colour combinations . It’s a suitable choice especially when you look at their new cantina restaurants which act as a casual bar and even includes a DJ.
So what’s this design lacking and where does it fall short? The number one thing I’m missing is the appetizing colour psychology found in the old logo. With it's featured reds, yellows, greens, and distinct ground beef brown, it did a wonderful job of representing the look and feel of Taco Bell's food.
The bell symbol was simplified in order for it to be easily manipulated and applied with patterns, gooey cheeses, and other creative little brand elements that we've seen released on their packaging. While I think this works with the minimalistic trend, others have issues with the symbol's new look. Bill Gardner (Gardner Design) said on the Logo Geek podcast, “it looks prophylactic…” meaning, “intended to prevent disease,” meaning, yeah, it looks like a condom.
I have to admit, this was not the first thing that I saw, but now that he points it out I may not be able to un-see it.
Lastly, the sans-serif type in the logo (Akzidenz-Grotesk? AKA Helvetica) now places Taco Bell among the thousands of other company’s re-branding themselves to have the same, boring look. The brand deserves points for keeping their symbol, unlike the majority of other companies who’ve been taken in by this trend, however, I would have liked to see them go in a different direction with their type or even re-design the 70s style type they used in one of their old logos.
Now comes the important question: Does it work? Well let me ask you this first: When was the last time you ate at Taco Bell? Why haven’t you ate there? What did you associate their food with previously? They’ve managed to stick around this long, but I have to imagine they weren’t doing so hot once other fast-casual mexican restaurants (Chipotle, Qdoba, etc.) started popping up. I would have liked to see some better colour choices, but they’ve clearly chosen the path of separating themselves from the other leading red and yellow branded fast food restaurants – a common practice when re-branding a business to help them stand out from their competitors. It’s also difficult to argue that the new look does not match the ambiance of their new weird direction of fast food/sit down restaurant/nightclub/adult 7-11 venues. So why not take a risk and make a big change if what you had before wasn’t working? If their food hasn’t spelled the end of their company, I’m not sure a new look that a few design snobs don’t like will end it either.
Is there a brand you’d like to see critiqued? Post it down in the comment section below!