I remember my first Pizza Hut pizza well. I don’t recall if it was my first ever pizza, we weren’t a family who ate pizza, indeed despite essentially being cheese and tomato on bread, my dad still will not eat one (he once said, in these very words, “I eat to survive not for enjoyment”, but in his defence he was a heavy smoker at the time so his taste was somewhat numbed I understand). I assume it was some time in the late 1980’s and for a birthday, as we didn’t eat out at fast food places unless it was a special occasion (my folks stopped country pubs on long journeys, or headed to Little Chef or Happy Eater when travelling with us kids, as both had open kitchens where you could see ‘fresh’ food being cooked).
So yes, this was an occasion. I’d adopted my parents conservative eating habits and despite waiting staff encouragement to make use of my 2 free topping allowance, I added only extra cheese.
It was blooming delicious.
Hot and stretchy, with a rich tomato sauce, served in a pan with a pizza slice to extract it. Experiential.
Today however I we rarely visit a Pizza Hut. Usually it’s a stop of convenience because we’re likely not to have to book, our car journey has taken longer than expected and the kiddums are hungry and will always eat pizza.
Whilst in America, travelling in the worlds smallest yellow rental car from New York to Boston we welcomed it’s familiarity for a late dinner. The pizza was good but the salad bar left us wanting, bruised lettuce and stinky cucumber.
We are much more likely to head to one of it’s slightly more middle class rivals, Pizza Express or Zizzi who’s pizzas taste fresher and don’t feel as greasy. And other italian based rivals seem to make better pizza despite not specialising in it, Ask, Strada, Prezzo, Carluccio’s and more all pull off pizza well.
And Pizza Hut know it, in the US, sales are down and the “Hut” have chosen to follow multinational rival Dominos in a bold rebrand accompanying a fresh take on the menu.
The US logo transitions from a very glossy rendition of the 1995 logo that still looks very set in 1995, to a more simple, 1 colour “tomato swirl” logo that mostly retains the same angled wonky roof shape and brush text.
They’ve thrown in a “The Flavour of Now” message and updated their boxes with a classy black top and minimal branding.
Also, for some indescribable reason added a secondary logo, featuring the tomato swirl circle that drops the text and centres the hat, I mean hut roof. Which isn’t the smartest move because it does simply look like a hat in a circle without the text. I mean it is a stylisation of architect Richard D. Burke’s fancy “branded” roof yes, but without the Pizza Hut below, forming more of a building shape it simply looks like a hat.
A wonky hat.
Even with recent, more website friendly lockups with the roof to the left and the text beside, the roof doesn’t feel too hat like, but this new version..? Hat’s all I see.
No idea if this will roll out to the UK, it is hat aside a good update and Yum Brands, owners of Pizza Hut are pushing a pretty ambitious and rather swish interior design update for sister brand KFC.
Still it could be worse, it could be badly drawn pot lid logo, like Brewers Fayre.
So what are your thoughts, am I too harsh on the whole hat thing, is the Pizza hut roof emblematic enough to pull this off? Sound off in the comments!
A brief and not comprehensive history:
via Design Week.