The Olive Garden logo has had a fairly short and very tumultuous history. The restaurant has been openly criticized for a long while for its faux Italian experience. However, the tumultuous part of its history began around 2012, and culminated with the Olive Garden logo redesign.
Originally opened on December 13, 1982, in Orlando, Florida, the restaurant quickly grew successful, and started expanding. Despite their seemingly endless supply of bread-sticks and salads, and their move into international territory, the restaurant began bleeding profits. But nothing had quite a negative impact on the Italian restaurant as the 2014 Olive Garden logo update.
Olive Garden Logo Design Elements
Over the course of its history, the Olive Garden logo has had three main elements: the text, the background, and the element meant to remind people of Italy. This element has only been around since 1998. It has already changed once, causing a huge public uproar. I am talking, of course, about the grapes, and respectively the olive branch, which are featured in the Olive Garden logo image.
The public opinion was not positive in regards to the Olive Gardens new logo. It was perhaps one of the most widely publicized and criticized logos in American history.
Changes and Evolution
The original 1982 logo lasted for about 15 years before being changed in 1997-1998. There was basically no public reaction after the first logo change. However, this change was by no means a small one. But it’s the new Olive Garden logo that made the biggest impact on many people, shaking the foundations of the restaurant chain for years to come.
The original Olive Garden logo, the one instated in 1982, was quite simple and elegant. It only consisted of a simple font on a gray, stone background. Other than the words “the Olive Garden” and “Italian Restaurant”, there was nothing else present on the restaurant’s logo.
After being made part of the Darden Restaurants spin-off of General Mills, Olive Garden suffered its first major logo update. The font was slightly modified, the background was changed from stone to a faux stucco texture, and a vine with proportionally giant grapes was added to the logo.
All of the colors present in the first two Olive Garden logos are meant to suggest an authentic dining experience in Tuscany. The gray stone background of the first logo in combination with the green text was meant to represent simplicity, elegance, stability, and of course, healthy, traditional Italian cuisine.
The second logo present a stucco the color of camel beige. The text is green, and the grapes in the upper right-hand corner are purple. The purple grapes and the green text were meant to stick out on the beige stucco background. The green symbolizes healthy eating. The deep purple of the grapes suggests nobility, royalty, luxury, ambition, and power.
Despite the fact that the Olive Garden logo dropped the word ‘the’’ in 1998, as well as the period after the restaurant’s name, the font remained pretty similar. It suffered some modifications, but it only made the logo look fancier and easier to integrate.
According to the full investor presentation, the famous creative consultancy group Lippincott helped design the logo, although they aren’t given full credit. In 2014, the logo was completely redesigned, leaving out the background, changing the font, and substituting the vine and grapes with a vector image of an olive branch. Despite it being more in tune with the Italian restaurant chain’s name, the newest logo was very poorly received.
Whoever was responsible for the logo redesign suffered a great deal of sorrow as a result of the re-branding. Nobody seems to like the color, image, and simplicity of the new logo. Moreover, the font only served to add to the idea that streamlining isn’t always better.
Criticisms were quite often encountered before 2014, mainly due to the perceived mediocre quality of the restaurant. Many jokes involved the fact that the restaurant got every order wrong, just like they got their own logo wrong (referring to the fact that the Olive Garden logo included a vine with grapes).
However, after the logo was simplified and changed in 2014, the new Olive Garden logo was criticized more than ever before. The main complaint was in regards to the simplicity of the new Olive Garden logo, not only in comparison to Olive Garden old logo. It was perceived as lazy, simplistic, and very poorly designed.
From a functional point of view, the new Olive Garden logo is perfect. It is streamlined, the font and image are very easy to move around and modify to fit any surface or restaurant sign. It is so simplistic it could be modified by anyone. However, it was a commercial failure.
While certainly not the best restaurant to eat in America, Olive Garden has managed to make a name for itself over its short history. The Olive Garden logo is no stranger to controversy. The restaurant chain’s mediocre quality and very strange faux Italian atmosphere make many critics rib on it with every occasion. Regardless, it is still a staple of American dining.