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Olive Garden’s New Logo Has A Bad Aftertaste
By: Jennifer Graber
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In the branding world logo redesigns are a tricky business. Success in doing so can be quite difficult to attain. Anyone remember the Gap logo redo debacle from a couple years back? Yeah, thought so. So it is always a bit surprising that there is not more apprehension involved in what should be a carefully calculated process. Olive Garden, of the Darden Restaurants group, is one brand that has thrown caution to the wind and opted for a logo redesign in an effort to refresh the brand.
 
Olive Garden has been on the receiving end of much bad news with regards to numbers recently. The Italian casual dining locale has seen a 5.4% drop in sales, a 13% decrease in traffic, and a 10% drop in its market shares. Investors are breathing down the back of the brand, demanding action and change. And Olive Garden has responded. The restaurant brand made the bold choice of redesigning its logo. The push behind redoing the logo was in hopes that it would rejuvenate the brand and change the minds of consumers, thus drawing more people into the restaurant. The chain wanted to drift away from its previous image, preventing any possibly brand staleness.
 
So the brand jumped in head first. Olive Garden went from its trusty and rustic grape logo to the image above. And the change has not been well received. At all. Some consumers have humorously retorted that the new logo looks “like it was drawn with a breadstick,” while others have commented that the new logo is the equivalent of a grade-school student’s handwriting practice. Ouch. Not exactly what a brand wants to hear about its alleged hard work and tireless efforts — the brand’s agency stated the logo was released after "much testing."

The problem with Olive Garden’s new logo is that the brand placed too many of its proverbial eggs in one basket. So much hope was placed on the logo. The hope was that it would move mountains and make unbelievably positive changes for Olive Garden. But that was not necessarily the case. It almost seems like the brand is making a grab for anything that will help, insisting all the while that it has a well thought-out plan in the works. But investors and groups are still hounding the brand, calling for a detailed plan with a more solid strategy. The truth is, Olive Garden needs more than just a logo redesign. In that particular case it seems as if it should have left well enough alone.
 
Olive Garden needs to address the core issues for the brand — what will cure what ails it, not quick fixes. Changing the logo can be a small portion of a larger strategy, but it should not be the only or main aspect. Olive Garden should assess whether or not it is meeting a need in the market anymore. What do the consumers want and how is the brand fulfilling that? First and foremost, a brand should stay true to itself and its core ideals. However, it is vital to note that a brand should also grow and evolve with the market and its customers. It is possible to do both. These are the types of things the Olive Garden brand should truly consider.
 
Olive Garden certainly has a long road, and a great deal of work, ahead in order to build the brand back up to its former glory.

   

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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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