Zaatar w Zeit: Fast Food by Another Name


I have been seeing murmurs of a new logo design for Lebanese chain Zaatar w Zeit for several weeks, but I decided at the time not to write about it. However, I was thinking about American fast food design the other day and decided to look up the new logo to see how Middle Eastern fast food brands differ from those in the States.

American fast food logo design varies according to the particular brand being represented, but there are a few commonalities. The most common colors are red and yellow, which have been proven in studies to increase hunger. The images tend to be homey and appeal to people’s comfort food cravings. Moreover, many of these logos feature friendly characters that add to the comfort of the restaurant, making people feel like they are eating at the home of a familiar friend. There is little in the typical American fast food logo design that suggests quality, freshness or health; after all, these factors are not the reasons that most people patronize fast food restaurants.

Clearly the market is different in the Middle East, where Zaatar w Zeit has most of its chains. Although the restaurant offers Middle Eastern versions of fast food favorites, the logos, both old and new, show key cultural differences. The old logo features the image of an old fashioned sign in an earthy brown, with the name written in both Latin and Arabic lettering. An olive oil jug in the center refers to the name, which means Thyme and Olive Oil. The new logo is crisp and green, with a thyme leaf and a droplet representing the two ingredients in the name. The name of the fast food restaurant is written in lower case letters that are round and friendly.

The Zaatar w Zeit logos are both earthy and have traditional aspects, but the new one especially seems to emphasize health and freshness. This is a huge change from the typical American fast food logo design. In addition, the older design is more ethnic. The change may be due to the chain’s gradual expansion into European markets, where fresh and healthy will likely be valued above Middle Eastern flair.

The new logo design is also more literal, with a very graphic representation of the name (which encompasses two of the main ingredients as well). It is friendlier and more approachable, not to mention more memorable.

If you are looking for a new logo design, brand differentiation is an important concept to keep in mind. I predict that the Zaatar w Zeit logo design and brand will be just as compelling in Western markets as they are in other parts of the world. The brand presents a restaurant chain that is so different from the standard fare that people will really want to give it a try. While it is important for your logo design to hint at your industry, it is just as important that it give customers a reason to choose you over the competition.