Contributed by Ron Boucher, creative director at Orlando-based Push.
When it first opened in 1976, casual-dining restaurant chain Old Chicago was credited as being one of the first to offer a fresh selection of pizza, pasta and 110 beers from around the world on one single menu. While that concept was considered cutting-edge 30 years ago, it is now often considered predictable for many restaurants. With 96 locations in 22 states, Old Chicago needed to reinvent its brand to stand out amongst the competitive space while reinforcing its commitment of providing guests with handmade pizza and the best lineup of cold beers in town. Additionally, the restaurant was seeking to expanding its existing target audience to include more women as well as move their day part mix to a more balanced offering, especially with driving lunch business.
Primary and secondary research was conducted allowing Push to get an authentic sense of how people, both users and non-users, perceived the brand. Utilizing the research and recognizing the need to distinguish the brand outside of the competition, Push created an entire brand language and hierarchy that included brand positioning to best represent the future of Old Chicago. Every decision made after that point was designed with that language and hierarchy in mind — including a new logo, descriptor (changing from “Old Chicago 110 Brews, Pasta & Pizza” to “Old Chicago Pizza & Tap Room”), new interior and exterior designs, new graphics, new food and beer menus, new employee uniforms, an interactive, digital beer menu, new HR management guides and an updated internal communications plan — all working together to create the “new” Old Chicago.
The first location of the restaurant’s rebranding efforts has seen positive results since it implemented the rebrand in early 2012. Specifically, the location has since seen a top line same store sales gain of 20 percent, with an average increase of lunch sales by 31 percent and weekend sales by 33 percent. The rebranding of additional locations are currently underway.