Wendy’s revealed its new logo design last week (See above). It is the first redesign for the Ohio-based fast-food company since 1983. The new design is part of Wendy’s new branding efforts and supports its new advertising campaign “Now that’s better.” Unfortunately, we cannot really say the same about Wendy’s new brand identity.
The previous brand identity (See below) displayed Wendy, a depiction of founder Dave Thomas’ eight-year-old daughter, on top of a large Western-style red frame. Wendy smiled at us in her blue-white striped dress and high collar. Her red hair and pigtails with the blue bows became iconic. The restaurants’ name “Wendy’s” was written in white across a bright red panel. A black ornament filled the space created by the swerved up name. The typography looked as if it came straight from the Wild West. “Old Fashioned Hamburgers” was clearly visible in bold black all-caps letters below on a yellow menu headpiece. Overall, there was no mistake that this sign felt nostalgic but authentic in its roots.
The new design is quite different. It still features Wendy, even more prominently than before. She is still dressed in a white-blue dress with a high collar. She still has the iconic red pigtails and blue bows, and plenty of freckles. But clearly she has evolved. She appears friendly and smiles at us with her nearly perfectly symmetrical face (Even her freckles are well-balanced) as she bursts out of the circle enclosure with a black border. “Wendy’s” is written in red in a casual font across a clean white background. All tag lines have been removed. “Quality is our Recipe” and “Old Fashioned Hamburders” were not replaced by the brand’s new tagline (“Now that’s better”).
Many brand experts would argue that Wendy’s brand identity was long due for a redesign. It started to look dated, especially compared to new brands that have entered the market in the past few years. Wendy’s is trying to reposition itself in the changing fast-food industry where other restaurants such as Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, and Panera Bread have gained traction as Fast Casual restaurants. Traditionally, Wendy’s positioned itself as a quality fast-food restaurant for adults (Quality is our Recipe) but in the last few years Wendy’s has struggled to compete against these Fast Casual restaurants. With its new campaign and rebranding efforts, Wendy’s is trying to reverse that trend.
The new design feels bland and underdeveloped. Although the new design has been received rather positively, some pundits have pointed out that the design looks a bit rushed. Trying to play it very safe, the design seems to follow the current trend of redesigns. Brands such as Microsoft, Windows, Ebay, or Gap have all shared mediocre redesigns recently. There seems to be a challenge for brand managers and brand consultants to execute clean or simple designs. Clean does not mean bland per se. The illustration of Wendy’s looks as if it came straight out of a clipart collection. There is no abreaction nor can we detect any sort of graphic refinement. The overall result leaves us with a sense of disappointment, or, as an irascible Clara Peller might ask, “Where’s the beef?”
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