Bennigan’s Gets a New Look and a New Plan

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Sometimes surviving in a down economy can mean getting creative. Sometimes it means getting a new and more relevant brand; sometimes it means overhauling your business model instead. For popular casual dining restaurant, holding their position has meant a combination of all of the above.

Bennigan’s recently opened a new, company-owned restaurant location—a change for the business, which had formerly cut back to a franchisor alone. The location is a change in itself, with new entertainment options, high tech options such as pay-at-table technology, and a classic, Irish-style bar. Further, the company also is going to be rolling out a new logo design and visual identity at all of its locations in the very new future.

The new look is modern and sleek, with lighter woods and a more hip overall ambience. The feeling of an Irish pub has been replaced by a distinctly American atmosphere complete with HD television and new, modern entrée selections.

The old logo design was a slightly cliché but amusing blend of an American bald eagle and an Irish shamrock. Classic angled writing with subtle shadowing brought old time taverns to mind, while the green color tied into the Irish nationality. This brand was distinctly Irish and gave a certain image and expectation to customers looking for a place to eat out. Unfortunately, the brand was not resonating with many modern Americans, leading to struggles for the company.

The new logo design is more in line with contemporary preferences. Thin, white letters with serifs have replaced the green script and offer a more modern feeling that is appropriate for casual dining. The only image is of a foamy glass of beer, which keeps the old time tavern feeling. Most telling, the old tagline has been changed from ‘Irish American Grill & Tavern’ to ‘American Fare – Irish Hospitality’. This logo design keeps the spirit of the original, but in a less cliché way that will be a better fit with its audience.

The new, company-owned location will be a testing ground of sorts for the franchisor. Settled in the Bennigan’s stronghold of the Midwest, the 180 seat restaurant will set the pace for Bennigan’s locations all over the world.

With ninety franchised restaurants spread across twelve different nations, this change will be a massive undertaking and a slow project over the next several years. However, franchises in far-flung markets such as Mexico and Bahrain have already adopted the new brand and found it to be successful.

If you are interested in giving the Bennigan’s brand a test spin but don’t live near one, the restaurant recently signed an agreement to offer signature menu items in other retail channels including grocery stores. People all over the nation will soon be seeing this logo design on a street corner or in a freezer near them. Whether this rebranding and expansion can pick up sales remains to be seen, but the new brand is a more attractive and more relevant one than its predecessor.