A logo's value is more important than some might think—and it definitely goes beyond simply a snappy emblem at the top of your menu. A logo should resonate with your brand's personality and evoke an idea that is core to your message. The best logos encapsulate a brand's visual identity and tell a part of a brand story (yup, all in one tiny image). In a crowded market, your logo can also offer a point of differentiation from your competitors, help you catch a second glance, entice new customers, and maybe even get food media talking about your business.
If you choose not to work with a professional when designing your logo, do a little research first. To start: Is your name more literal or more conceptual? Much like your tagline, if you have one, your name should be complementary. For instance, the name "Fuddruckers" doesn't necessarily indicate that it's a restaurant, much less a burger chain, so its tagline is "World's Greatest Hamburgers." On the other side of the spectrum, literally named Burger King's tagline is "Have It Your Way," which is more evocative, and indicates an important point of differentiation from the competition.
A logo can work with your restaurant's name in this same way, adding information and nuance the customer doesn't even know they're gleaning.
Many diners find French restaurants intimidating. That's why the name, ethos, and logo of Le CouCou, a high-end French restaurant in New York, works so well. Known for offering serious French food in a beautiful but approachable setting, the name Le CouCou means someone who is sweetly crazy. Appropriately the logo, which appears in a hand-written, loopy French script, feels about as unstuffy as it gets. On some branded products, it's even paired with a Picasso-inspired bird, which makes it even cuter and welcoming.
This may seem to contradict some of the advice above—if your name is literal, then your logo can be more evocative, right? But in this case, this particular image of a dried chipotle pepper speaks to the brand's emphasis on authenticity. The Chipotle logo, which was redesigned in 2009, is drawn in an Aztec-inspired style, underscoring the brand's story and implying a sense of tradition.
High-end Korean restaurant Atomix is all about elegant design, and its logo speaks to that focus. The space is minimalist and carefully curated, the plating is restrained and exquisite, the dinnerware is hand-crafted and carefully chosen, and the cocktails are pristine. The stark logo underscores this understated, elegant approach to dining. It hints to the diner what they may be getting, and contributes to the overall experience.
With a name as funny and ridiculous as Peg Leg Porker, a literal logo of a three-legged pig just feels correct. Arguably Nashville's best barbecue restaurant, Peg Leg Porker emphasizes their down-home roots with a vintage-style, crosshatched pen-and-ink drawing of a pig—one that would feel just as much home in the 1880s as it does today. This style plays up the idea that the barbecue here is old-school, possibly a family recipe dating from way back.
Simple, clean-lined, and elegant—Farmhouse's logo is as stripped-down as their food, which uses local ingredients and simple preparations that make the most of their fresh offerings. Some farm-to-table restaurant logos veer more industrial; others aim for rustic. This logo, instead, feels timeless.
While the name "Shake Shack" may, to the uninitiated, indicate that the brand is all about their milkshakes (a la Dairy Queen), the logo helps upend this expectation by being all about the burger. Common wisdom holds that restaurants should eschew electric-looking colors but this logo proves that excellent design can safely buck the rules. Shake Shack's lime green line drawing and Art Deco-inspired font gently evoke the 1920s and vintage neon signs, while still feeling updated and cool.
[Photos: Youngje Park via Unsplash]