Olive Garden Logo Design History and Evolution

Olive Garden Logo Design History and Evolution



Perhaps one of the most controversial logos we’ll ever approach on this website, the Olive Garden logo has had a fairly short and very tumultuous history. Despite the fact that the restaurant had been openly criticized for a long while for its faux Italian experience, 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. However, despite their seemingly endless supply of breadsticks and salads and their move into international territory, the restaurant began bleeding profits two decades after its inception. 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 not-that-long history, the Olive Garden logo has had three main elements – the text and its font, the background, and the element meant to remind people of Italy. This element has only been around since 1998 and has already changed once, causing a huge public uproar. I’m talking, of course, about the grapes and respectively the olive branch which were featured in the Olive Garden logo image.
Olive Garden logo
Even though public opinion had been fairly pessimistic in regards to the restaurant previous to the Olive Gardens new logo, it only became more so after the redesign. It was perhaps one of the most widely publicized and criticized logos in American history, despite the irony of the restaurant offering a faux Italian dining experience.

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, albeit the change was by no means a small one. But it’s the new Olive Garden logo that made the biggest impact on the general populous, shaking the foundations of the restaurant chain for years to come.

But how exactly did the logo changes affect the restaurant, who helped design the new logo, and how did the restaurant recover from the blow it suffered in 2014? Read more about the Olive Garden logo and find out.

Olive Garden restaurant



Shape

The original 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 other than a period punctuating the title.

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.



Finally, in 2014, the logo was completely redesigned, completely 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.

Criticisms were quite often encountered before 2014, mainly due to the perceived mediocre, bordering on poor, quality of the restaurant. Many jokes involved the fact that the restaurant gets 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 general populous started criticizing it 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, but in and of itself. It was generally perceived as lazy, simplistic, and very poorly designed.

Color

All of the colors present in the first two Olive Garden logos were meant to suggest and represent 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 presented a stucco the color of camel beige, with the text also presented in green, and with purple grapes in the upper right-hand corner. The purple grapes and the green text were meant to stick out on the beige stucco background, to be an added attraction.

Olive Garden logo new

The green was also meant to symbolize healthy eating, while the deep purple of the grapes was present on the logo to suggest nobility, royalty, luxury, ambition, and power, as well as dignity, peace, wealth, and extravagance. Most saw the logo as the designers focusing too much on what they wanted it to represent and not as much on considering whether it was a good idea.

But all previous criticisms were quickly overshadowed by the Olive Garden logo change in 2014. People were overenthusiastically outraged at the new logo, and for very good reasons. The background textures, such a big part of the restaurant’s logo since its beginning, are now completely gone, the font was replaced with a far more simplistic one, and the newly added olive branch looks like it could just a brush tool in Photoshop.

People also had issues with how the Olive Garden font changed to gray from its previous green, and they also had issues with the new, olive green color of the olive branch. The general consensus was that the color of the olive branch is just too tiring to look at.

Font

Another huge part of the Olive Garden brand reboot scandal of 2014 was the font. 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.

The new font, however, was completely reworked. According to the full investor presentation, the famous creative consultancy group Lippincott helped design the logo, including the font, although they aren’t given full credit.

Whoever was responsible for the logo redesign suffered a great deal of sorrow as a result of the rebranding. Aside from the fact that nobody like the color, image, and simplicity of the new logo, the font only served to add to the idea that streamlining isn’t always better.

Olive Garden restaurant

From a functional point of view, the new Olive Garden logo is perfect. It’s streamlined, the font and image are very easy to move around and modify to fit any surface or restaurant sign, and it’s so simplistic it could be modified by anyone. Overall, it was a commercial failure.

While certainly not the best restaurant at which to eat in America, Olive Garden has managed to make a name for itself over its short, but interesting history. The Olive Garden logo is no stranger to controversy, and the restaurant chain’s mediocre quality and very strange faux Italian atmosphere made many critics rib on it with every occasion they got. Regardless, it’s still a staple of American dining.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4

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Tanya O’Donnell

Tanya is a self-declared comic book nerd and she has an extensive collection of rare memorabilia gathered over more than 10 years. She is interested in design and the relationship between products and their brand image, which qualifies her to contribute to LogoRealm. Although she has a background in Political Sciences, Tanya was always passionate about the world of design and her articles reveal her in-depth knowledge in the field.


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