Noodles & Company Rebrand

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Noodles & Company was founded in 1995 by Aaron Kennedy using personal savings and investments from friends and family. It was initially met with negative reviews, but the management team overhauled the concept and led a turnaround. Food critics grew to love the chain and it won awards for fast-growth, healthy food and being family friendly. The company has 339 locations, some of which are franchised. Noodles & Company offers international and American noodle dishes, as well as soups, salads, pasta and sandwiches. (source: Wikipedia)

When looking at a comparison of their before & after identities (below), one might think the they are reversed, and the logo on the right is actually the old/original – it looks plain and boring compared to the previous design. Whereas their previous logo was fresh and playful, this rebrand is decidedly stale and serious.

Noodle_redesign

I visit this restaurant with my kids every so often, and I’ve always found their food to be tasty and their advertising to be rather clever (see below).

tenant_273-1

I thought their logo was distinctive and well conceived, and clearly communicated their business and personality. I do not know why their management felt the need to change the logo, nor can I fathom why they would ever agree to this dud of a redesign. The use of all caps is too corporate. The teeny tiny white ampersand on a yellow circle is insignificant and hard to read. The yellow stroke on the oval is so thin as to be unnecessary. The “& Company” is off-centered (why?). And the  drop shadow is misaligned. All-in-all, this comes across as cheap and amateurish, not even believable as an early draft of a redesign. If the previous logo were a heaping plate of warm, buttery noodles, this new one is a skimpy portion, cold and undercooked. I want to take it back for a new bowl. Also, just this year Noodles introduced a new tagline: “Your World Kitchen.” The curious thing is, I don’t get any “world” sense from any element of this logo design, particularly not from the bland typography they chose.

Was Noodles & Company really due for a rebrand or logo redesign? As a customer, I don’t see why. But if it were the case, they could have done so without serving up something as uninspired and lifeless as this. Perhaps something like this would have been a good place to start (below). In this rough design, the most noticeable change is moving the skillet (which I made into a wok) to the bottom and making the ampersand a long noodle that is popping up during shaking. I also rounded the letters to make them a bit more noodle-y. The inside of the wok now echoes the enclosing oval shape behind the words. I also opted for a more Asian shade of red.

Noodles_logo

This is just one concept that would take the existing design in a new direction. The new logo is not an improvement, in my opinion. Rather it is a big step backward. If I had never been to the restaurant, their new sign would not grab my attention and entice me inside to have a taste. More likely, I would drive by thinking, “meh.” This is not a tasty rebrand, it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

FINAL GRADE: F

About author: Scott Schiller is a Milwaukee-based art director, graphic designer, illustrator and fine artist. He has experience in corporate branding, logo design and marketing and advertising design. He is also an accomplished wildlife and pet portrait artist.

Written by on November 18, 2013

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