By Harry Peng, Design Director
As we look back at 2019, I’ve rounded up my three worst F&B rebrands in China for the year. Read on and see if you agree. Then if you’re itching for more, check out my top three best F&B rebrands in China here.
#1 Sprite Chinese Logo / Identity Set
Sprite rolled out a new English identity in late 2018 as a part of their global rebrand. Overall, the updated iconography is moving away from the literal presentation of the lemon shape with reduced size. This makes it easier to introduce and extend its product line across multiple flavours. Overall, a smart change for Sprite.
Earlier in 2019, Sprite China was also pulled into the global rebrand, yet I’m not sure they went down the right route.
When working on a global brand, it’s important that the key elements and overall visual language from the original logo is kept. With Sprite, the key elements of the splash box and the iconic yellow dot were kept, but the visual language of the characters were not. Although the strokes of the characters have been straightened, it almost felt like it was done with a clock ticking over the designer’s shoulder for the following reasons:
1. Poor use of space inside the splash, leaving the logo unbalanced
Where the old logo has the Chinese characters following the shape of the curved splash nicely, the new logo is missing this and I see no obvious connection between the shape of the Chinese characters and the curved splash, which makes the splash an awkwardly-shaped speech bubble that appears to be dropped over at the last minute. Without any stretches, adjustments or distortions on the Chinese characters, it just leaves a big chunk of empty white space on each end of the curved splash. If you look at the English logo, you can see that the white space is balanced all around.
2. The usage of the yellow dot is … questionable
If you take a look at the English logo, for the latin characters you’ll see the yellow dot is a part of an actual letter, the “i”. With or without the curved splash, this yellow dot has a reason to be there.
However, for the Chinese logo, the yellow dot has no purpose and feels awkward. It’s not a part of the Chinese character. To be fair, with the curved splash applied, you can argue the yellow dot is a part of the logo and creating a balance between the green and white. Yet once you remove the splash, in my opinion, you also remove any reason for the dot.
Don’t get me wrong, I think overall the new Chinese logo works and I’m a big fan of the flat design, but I expected a bit more from a multimillion RMB brand. The details matter!
#2 Wallace Fried Chicken
Wallace is a Chinese fast food chain that was established back in 2000 and currently operates over 3000 restaurants in mainland China. Their most recent rebrand has me scratching my head. The concept of balance is extremely important for designers, especially when working with bilingual identities, yet Wallace has unfortunately missed the mark in many cases.
1. Lack of details
First of all, being a designer the details (or lack of it) are what immediately stand out at first glance. The radius and outline of the letter W is quite awkward, what happened and why?
2. Mismatched Chinese and Latin fonts
Secondly, the latin font chosen doesn’t match the Chinese font at all. The latin font is rounded and playful, while the Chinese font is sharp-edged and serious. They should work together but they’re complete opposites, where’s the harmony between the two?
At Thread, when we work on a bilingual identity, we always look at how different language fonts work together. When ALDI entered the China market, we helped them develop a Chinese name and localize their identity. We made sure to respect the original logo and details, while applying similar details to the Chinese characters. The result was a balanced bilingual logo that worked cohesively together.
3. Readability and balance of Chinese and English logo
Thirdly, what ever happened to the balance of readability between the English and Chinese logo? I think if you squint really hard, you can see the English name.
4. Copy and paste packaging “design”
Lastly, not related to balance but something also very important is the missed opportunities on their packaging. This VI lacks dimension, they’re just copying and pasting the logo across all their material.
In today’s world, a brand needs to be more than just two colours and a logo, it needs to have more depth and elements to it, so that you can take a consumer through a whole experience.
#3 Daniang Dumplings
As a Chinese-style restaurant chain brand with 22 years of history, Daniang Dumplings has more than 400 chain stores in over 100 cities across China and serves more than 50 million consumers each year. It ranks among the “Top Ten Famous Chinese Fast Food Brand Enterprises” and “Top Ten Fast Food Companies in China”. After being bought out by GreenTree Inn Group, they initiated a rebrand in hopes to rejuvenate the brand image for a younger audience. The reason for their rebrand isn’t surprising, yet I’m not sure they thought it through clearly. Take a look below.
1. Too many Identity changes in a short time
In less than a decade, there have been a series of rebranding as a result of ownership change. We’re all for keeping the brand fresh and relevant, but for Daniang Dumpling it’s too much too soon. From a consumer point of view, it feels thoughtless and messy.
2. Loss of Emotional Link
Daniang, in Chinese, translated loosely means the “heart-warming auntie of yours that adores and spoils you all the time”. (Seriously!) Chinese characters aside, the name itself bears a layer of caring and warmth to the brand. To most of the consumers in China, there’s so much emotional attachment to the name Daniang, that it feels wrong to have changed the logo this drastically by removing the ‘auntie’. I feel they’ve taken away an incredibly valuable brand asset and have become another generic dumpling brand.
3. Center align, please!
To all the designers, I know you feel me when you look at the curved wordmark and notice immediately that it’s not center aligned.
It’s painful to see.
If you are a geeky designer that has an OCD occupational hazard like me, you’ll likely notice the following as well:
Firstly, the letter A is missing a stroke and renders poor readability when it is curved. In this case, either the English is purely for aesthetics to appear ‘global’ or they wanted to make it a little more fun for English readers.
Secondly, why is the whole English name not centered? The letter G is obviously extruding far lower than the letter D. When it comes to the Chinese name, the same problem kind of repeats.
Thirdly, on the logo mark, the visual imbalance of the dumpling shape with the half cut-out D makes me cringe. At first sight, it looks like a poorly designed Pac-man is eating away the letter D.
Overall, Sprite China, Wallace Chicken and Burger and Daniang Dumplings have rounded out my top three worst F&B rebrands of 2019 but don’t think it’s all bad news. I’ve got my top three best F&B rebrands of 2019 here!
What do you think? Would you agree?