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Your restaurant’s logo is the most recognizable and influential part of your restaurant’s brand — it helps your company stand out in a crowd and creates a strong connection with customers. Logos create a visual and emotional tie between customers and their favorite brands. If you ask the average diner what a McDonald’s logo looks like or what colors the Domino’s logo has, they probably can answer at the drop of a hat. Creating a logo that resonates with customers can help make your restaurant more recognizable, keeping your brand on customers’ minds.

If your logo is ready for a refresh, it’s helpful to start by browsing popular restaurant logo ideas. When you can pinpoint why certain designs are successful, it’s easier to create a logo that elevates your company’s visual branding. 

Restaurant branding: what makes it important?

Branding is the way you convey your restaurant’s identity and distinguish it from competitors. A brand consists of multiple components, including its values, visual identity, messaging, and unique selling proposition.

The visual identity of a brand — the fonts, colors, and graphics that represent the company — helps shape public perception of your restaurant. Done well, these elements can create a positive impression even before diners take their first bite. Done poorly, they can turn off customers and prevent them from giving your food a chance.

Branding also helps potential customers understand your business. Your logo, in particular, provides clues about the style and type of food you serve. It’s why vegan and vegetarian restaurants often use leaf imagery and shades of green; because these elements are associated with fresh, healthy, and natural food, they signal that a restaurant serves plant-based cuisine. Likewise, fine-dining restaurant logo designs tend to use delicate fonts and sparse, abstract imagery to convey exclusivity and elegance.

A strong logo is essential to building brand awareness — the extent to which the public is familiar with your restaurant’s name and visual identity. Think about the biggest brands in the world; chances are, you can picture their logos immediately. That’s because they’re distinctive, simple, and tied strongly to the company’s identity.

When you’re looking for ways to boost your digital restaurant branding strategy, a great logo is a must. With the prevalence of logo makers and logo templates, creating a stunning design has never been more accessible. 

Key elements of good logo design

Logos might seem simple, but the graphic design process is surprisingly detailed. Whether you’re using a restaurant logo maker or working with a marketing agency, make sure to keep these rules in mind:

  • Keep it simple. Your logo will be published in a wide variety of sizes across both digital and print mediums. Minimal detailing makes it easier to read, even at the smallest sizes.
  • Make it striking. The most memorable restaurant logos use at least one bold element. The McDonald’s logo, with its oversized “M” and bright yellow and red color scheme, is a good example.
  • Stay with the times. There’s a reason restaurant logos change over time — they need to keep up with changing customer preferences for design and style. The best logos feel contemporary, but not trendy.
  • Be original. It’s easy to fall back on cliches or copy existing logos, but originality can help your business stand out from the crowd.
  • Follow design rules. Stick to two critical principles of good restaurant logo design: balance and proportion. Logos that are off-balance or disproportionate tend to make customers feel uncomfortable.

Most logos have two key parts: the wordmark and the mark. The wordmark consists of the logo’s text — usually, the name of your restaurant. The mark, which is also called the logomark, is the graphical element. It might be an image, an icon or a shape. On the Taco Bell logo, the mark is the brand’s iconic bell. 

Keep in mind that some logos use a wordmark only. When that happens, the designer typically selects an eye-catching font to help the logo stand out. Your design might also include a tagline or a frame.

Color theory for restaurant logos.

4 restaurant logo ideas

Graphic designers tend to use a few similar patterns when creating restaurant logos. As you’re searching for restaurant branding inspiration, consider these four tried-and-true layout ideas:

  1. Wordmark only. Simple and clean, these logos are the easiest to make; just select a font and add color. This style is popular with upscale restaurants such as Noma and The Wolseley.
  2. Separate wordmark and mark. This type of logo features the name of your restaurant below or to the right of a graphic mark. An example is the Dunkin’ Donuts logo, which features a cup of coffee positioned next to the stacked brand name.
  3. Wordmark framed by graphic. For a strong visual statement, frame your restaurant name with your mark. Arby’s logo follows this pattern; the name sits in the center of a cowboy hat.
  4. Wordmark with tagline. If your tagline is essential to your food business’s brand, this option can help you incorporate it elegantly. Make sure to create a hierarchy by placing the tagline below the restaurant name in a smaller font. Most brands use this format sparingly; occasionally, you’ll see the McDonald’s logo paired with “I’m lovin’ it” or the Papa John’s logo positioned above “Better ingredients. Better Pizza.”

When restaurants rebrand, their new logos can attract a great deal of attention. Olive Garden is a prime example — their 2014 logo redesign revealed a cleaner, more modern look that marked a significant departure from the dated, overly detailed original. Starbucks has also evolved its logo over the years to keep up with changing design styles, all while maintaining an instantly recognizable visual identity and consistent imagery.

Tips for making a restaurant logo

As you create a logo design for your restaurant, choose each element carefully. The fonts, colors and graphics you choose will affect how customers view your brand.

Font selection, in particular, is critical. To start, pick an option that’s easy to read, even at small sizes. Then, look for styles that represent the personality of your restaurant. It’s usually best to avoid polarizing fonts that elicit strong negative reactions, such as Papyrus and Comic Sans.

Logo colors are important because they’re tied to both emotions and stereotypes. Seafood restaurants often use blue because of its association with the ocean. Mexican restaurants often use orange and yellow; these warm shades hint at spicy food and colorful cultural imagery. Red is a popular color among fast-food restaurants because it’s powerful, it’s energetic, and it stands out in a crowded environment.

When it comes to graphics, proceed with caution. The best logos stick to simplified silhouettes that relate directly to the brand. The Sonic logo, for example, features shapes that hint at a vintage drive-in sign.

Restaurant logo designs for different cuisines.

Finding the right placement for your restaurant logo

Before you finalize the graphic design of your logo, make sure it will work on different marketing channels. After all, you’ll want to place it in multiple locations to reinforce your restaurant branding. At a minimum, it should appear on:

  • Print and digital menus
  • Restaurant signage
  • Business cards
  • Printed brochures, coupons, and flyers
  • Social media profiles
  • Staff uniforms
  • Professional email signatures
  • Business merchandise
  • Restaurant website
  • Branded delivery websites from services such as Grubhub Direct
  • Food delivery apps

Your logo plays a big role in the way the public sees your restaurant. By spending the time to create a strong design and placing it prominently on all key marketing materials, you can build stronger brand awareness and keep your company at the top of customers’ minds.

Are you ready to get your logo in front of more customers? Partner with Grubhub today to help market your brand and drive more orders to your restaurant.