Designing Brand Identity – Alina Wheeler


This is an incredible, in depth book on design identity. It has a massive influence on the understanding of branding and what processes need to be carried out to make a successful business. This book is an essential guide for the whole branding team!

Branding Report






Final Branding Report

The aim of my report is to understand and cover the branding of Pizza Express. I will look into to corporate identity, the brands history and values, cultural associations and links as well as the visual identity, including looking at the logo creation and development, the creative visual history, typography and color usage. The intended goal for me is to show the branding process, I will achieve this by collecting a large amount of visuals as well as written analysis.
Pizza Express is a huge chain of leading pizza restaurants based in the UK. The company operates under the name of ‘Milano’ in the Republic of Ireland and it is operated as part of the ‘Gondola’ group. The chains main rivals/ competitors are similar Italian restaurant chains like ‘Prezzo’ and ‘Strada’. Founder, ‘Peter Boizot’, opened the first restaurant in 1965, Wardour Street, London. The chain expanded initially as a franchise operation. In 1993, Pizza Express was brought to the London Stock Exchange (LSE), by the way of a reverse into a small shell company organised by David Page, Hugh Osmond and Luke Johnson. By 2003, there were over 300 restaurants in the UK alone. At this time, the chain also expanded to Ireland where it trades as ‘Milano’, and France, where the business is branded ‘Pizza Mazarno’. In Hong Kong the chain is named the same as in the UK as Pizza Express. The first original Pizza Express has stood in the middle of Soho since 1965. It is now the heart of what had become London’s bustling China Town District, but remains close to West End Theatres.
David Page worked with designer ‘Enzo Apicella’ to establish Pizza Express’s reputation for inventive and colorful design. Apicella is the main man behind the famous logo, influenced deeply by Art Nouveau, as he had a strong passion for painting. He also painted a huge mural for the chain.
There is a number of design and creative agencies and designers that have worked to help achieve the success of the chains major re-brand, over the period of time the restaurants have been open. Pizza Express set live briefs for agencies and designers to complete, and the winners go forward to design and create more work for the chain. Pizza Express has worked with design group ‘AB DESIGN’, who have being involved a lot in the chains, interior re-brand. Peter Boizot said “we love AB’s designs, because it allows diners to have an intimate meal without feeling cut off from our bustling, vibrant restaurant. Pizza Express, Richmond is a playful experiment that will evolve as our customers experience it”.
Pizza Express also worked with design agency ‘BrandOpus’ to develop a new visual motif. Creative director at BrandOpus, Paul Taylor considered other equalities associated with Pizza Express before finally deciding on the stripes as the main anchor for a refreshed identity.
BrandOpus looked into Pizza Express’s strong ties with jazz music, art and the color blue, including looking into its rich Italian history. However BrandOpus decided that by looking too deep into these main areas, that they could become lead to potential short term ideas. Pizza Express was also aware of this, and both agreed that the stripe theme was the way forward, and would work well across a wide variety of brand touch-points.
In early September 2011, creative company ‘Adam and Eve’ were employed to handle Pizza Express’s integrated advertising business and a brand new campaign.
In September 2011, Pizza Express launched their massive re-brand of its UK restaurants, with menu changes; a black and white logo and the wide spread use of stripes, both for the restaurant decor and staff uniforms. The chains major 2011 re-brand has covered re-looking at everything from design and furniture, crockery and acoustics, opening hours and staff uniforms, to all the food, wine and service. The whole new graphic style includes taking the idea of the stripes of the Pizzaiolo shirts and using it in surprising ways and creating a new typeface based on old newspapers.
Before the re-brand, a blue and white logo was re-drawn by ‘Bryson Loxley’. The logo captures the sixties spirit of freedom and positivity. The circle mark on the logo with the Art Nouveau look alike lines are actually picturing a stylized pizza in an attractive and interesting way.
As part of the chains major re-brand, a new logo was unveiled. The logo replaces the previous blue and white version. The style of the logo hadn’t changed, only the coloring. The logo is inspired by when Boizot visited Italy and saw Pizzaiolos dressed in striped shirts. On the 6th September 2011, Pizza Express introduced the changes with a message on Facebook: “When you step through the doors of Pizza Express today, you will notice some changes, an updated menu, cool new design details and a different atmosphere.
The main source of typography that Pizza Express use is Archer, and Archer light, which can be seen on their website, poster advertisements and restaurant menus, and promotional items. Their new stylings of posters consist of a large photograph and minimal text, letting the image do the talking.
In my opinion, Pizza Express has more than succeeded with their re-brand. The chain has now got more of a personal and unique styling to them, and the idea of taking the black and white stripes idea forward, is one of the most recognizable elements within the restaurants design. I believe that keeping the same logo drawn by Loxley, was a strong move for Pizza Express, because changing logo and identity is a massive thing to do, and by keeping the same logo design, keeps it recognisable to the public eye. The new look to the restaurants interior, exterior and graphics work, is more modern, slick and sophisticated, whereas before the major re-brand, the chains design work was a little messy and unrecognized. I believe that the time it has taken for Pizza Express to develop a new identity and branding, has definitely being worth the wait, because now they have a fixed brand styling, more people will start to recognize and hear about it.