The Olive Garden has always been thought to be a classic Italian restaurant with quality food and a relaxed, family-friendly environment. Consumers have created these perceptions from various personal experiences with the restaurant and from their branding – including their logo. Olive Garden recently changed their logo from their traditional, rustic design to a more modern, simpler look. This new look has caused hype in the media so we wanted to find out why.
We decided to launch one of our Instant Research Groups with 29 consumers the day the new logo was launched to gain a directional, quick consumer read and within three-days we were able to:
- Understand current brand perception of Olive Garden restaurants
- Gauge initial reactions to the old/former logo (likes/ dislikes)
- Gauge initial reactions to the new logo (likes/dislikes), including impact on brand perceptions
- Explore consumer suggestions for new logo design
When talking with participants about the restaurants brand perception, we quickly identified that there was a well-known understanding of what the brand entails.
THE OLIVE GARDEN EXPERIENCE
From the never-ending breadsticks and salad, to the family-friendly atmosphere, a majority of respondents mentioned that they enjoyed their experiences at the restaurant. But we also had a small group of respondents that didn’t have very positive experiences with the restaurant.
GutCheck Tip: One benefit of a GutCheck IRG is hearing the consumer’s feedback
directly from them… we’ve included some of their thoughts through-out the post.
“I love the menu there and the specials they put together. I think of the unlimited salad and breadsticks and the great wine list. I like the casual simple decor. Not to stuffy. Family friendly.” – Female, 45, TX
OLIVE GARDEN LOGO (ORIGINAL)
Olive Garden’s old logo had an overall positive response from our participants. Many thought that it correctly communicated:
- the authenticity and tradition of Italian food
- the look combined with the grapes also reminded the consumers of the wine offering
- the well rounded food and beverage offering by the restaurant
The majority of the respondents did not see a fault in the old logo and did not have suggestions for change.
“The design is aesthetically pleasing. I think that if it did not state Italian Restaurant you would still be able to infer that the restaurant is Italian given the grapes and vines.” – Female, 25, MD
“Old school traditional Italian. The purple grapes with the green writing gives it a rustic look. It is unmistakable and even if I were too far away to read the writing I would know the logo is for Olive Garden. It is one of the more recognizable logos around.” – Male, 42, NY
OLIVE GARDEN LOGO (NEW)
The new logo however, did not have such positive feedback. It was noted for not having a wide appeal to a majority of the respondents. They felt that the more modern and young appearance of the logo:
- did not align with the traditional appearance Olive Garden
- was leading to more of a cheaper, quick service food option
- did not represent the current eat-in dining feel
“I do not like this new logo at all. It looks young and carefree – nothing like the reliable, traditional logo they’ve had for years. Perhaps it would be effective in an attempt to bring in a younger generation of eaters, though in my opinion it would be a terrible idea to change the brand in any way, shape or form – including the logo.” – Female, 34, MI
“I think it makes the restaurant seem more commercialized than the last one. To me, the old logo said authenticity to me, this one just kind of says “we are like everyone else”.”- Female, 33, PA
So what would the respondents change? Overall, they generally felt the former logo was the best fit for the food chain. Those that did offer changes felt that the former colors of red, purple, green and gold should stay because they communicated the down-to-earth, warm Italian atmosphere.
I think the important thing here is to truly understand your brand’s value in today’s market. Our qualitative method provides the feeback to give key takeaways on how to refine your concepts. This then allows you to take optimized concepts in to a validation stage and test them quantitatively to make a final decision. It is critical for brands to understand their consumers and ask them their wants and needs before making changes like this. And our research shows you can do this quickly and get quality results in days!
Want to view the full executive summary on our Instant Research Group findings? Download the report here.