Atlanta Bread Co., hailing from, you guessed it, suburban Atlanta, is a casual bakery-café franchise offering fresh, quality food fast. Originally started as a small sandwich shop in 1993, the company has since franchised into approximately 100 locations in 24 states. As they have expanded, Atlanta Bread has not only enhanced the retail experience of their cafés, but updated their brand identity as well — a process they have been slowly rolling out over the past few months, here is an early look at the change.
The old Atlanta Bread logo was a very heavy mark consisting of detailed wheat stalks (indicative of both bread and baked goods) rendered on a black background, with a roughened yellow border frame that divided it into two, almost equal halves. The typeface, American Typewriter Condensed, was clunky, set in all caps, and looked dated (even when it first came out). These criticisms aside, the old Atlanta Bread logo projected a handmade quality that was appropriate for the audience and the type of establishment that it is, and all within a nicely contained, immediately recognizable mark.
There were, no doubt, certain reproduction challenges due to the level of detail of the old Atlanta Bread Co. brand, particularly in smaller sizes, or in embroidery applications on employee uniforms. Perhaps in response to these issues, the company decided to implement a much simpler identity for the brand, as evidenced by their recently adopted “Bread Man” logo.
Consisting of an abstracted, asymmetrical figure embracing a circular “bowl,” this new identity looks like it is straight out of an aboriginal cave painting, and more appropriate for an Outback Steakhouse. In fact, it reminds me of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games logo. According to the company web site, the Bread Man “represents the heart and soul of Atlanta Bread… part global traveler, part old school baker and part next door neighbor.”
OK, the “global” part I get… as I mention above, this seems very “Aussie” to me. The “old school baker” is a bit more of a stretch, unless that circular shape is supposed to be a bread bowl. And I certainly don’t see the “next door neighbor” in the new mark, unless you are supposed to get that impression from the personable feel of the new logotype. The casual, handwritten script is certainly an improvement over the old brand’s typewriter characteristics, and the burgundy and olive green color scheme is very nice.
In my opinion, Atlanta Bread’s new brand has been heavily influenced by Panera Bread, their largest competitor. Panera’s brand (shown above, which has been in use for several years) features an abstracted person holding a loaf of bread. A similar type treatment, with almost identical typefaces, has been used. And if you compare the retail environments of both restaurants, you will see similar color schemes, patterns, and graphic elements. It seems to me that Atlanta Bread was too busy trying to emulate and become the alternative to Panera Bread, that they simply implemented an identity that has very little, if anything, to do with the organization’s roots.
—Ryan Hembree, principal/creative director (originally posted on Underconsideration.com/BrandNew)