Thursday, 12 January 2012

Little chef, big mischief

The chirpy British roadside restaurant chain Little Chef has been in decline in recent times but with help from TV chef Heston Bluementhal and a big media campaign (Big Chef takes on Little Chef) the brand is looking to bounce back. Take a look at the re-designed interior and branding.


An excerpt of an interview with Minale Tattersfield designers David Davis and Peter Brown reveals their impressions on Little Chef’s updated design.

DD: You need to be careful if you are not going follow the established colours for rest areas, the typical chocolate coffee colours. Blue is a cold colour which can sometimes give off an unfavourable clinical ambience. ARD (Ab Rogers Design) have clearly devoted plenty of time to blue sky thinking. Hats off to them for trying something radically different. I am a bit concerned how the brand will fare across other sites.

PB: The red vinyl upholstery and pendant lighting adds warmth. Overall, I'd say the design looks cool in both senses... it's got a very modern European look.

DD: This is quite a departure from their old Little Chef branding. I agree with you about the warmth factor. You would assume an everyman's chef like Jamie Oliver would have been more appropriate.

PB: He was probably booked up. Heston can get up people’s noses.

DD: I wonder how costly the re-branding project was and whether they overspent on Heston. He's not going to go down well with the white van man types.

PB: It’s all a bit fussy. I can see this design working in posher parts of England…

DD: They opened 10 new stores across the UK and there’s quite a spread of locations, not just the wealthier catchment areas.

PB
: Sounds like they are test marketing. I hear that Venture 3 did the rebranding.

DD: Very colourful. Very P-O-P.

PB: But look at those people, they’re a little on the obese side?

DD: Which ones?

[PB points to topmost photo]

PB: Their branding strategy seems a little muddled. It looks like they are trying to Europeanize the roadside restaurant sector, move away from all that represents British stodginess. The interior now stands in complete contrast to the menu offering which according to Delicious review is a somewhat 'meaty' affair.

DD: I really wonder how their brand strategy is going to fare and whether they plan to replicate the look across their entire network. We're just into the beginning of the year and I hear 67 Little Chef sites have closed. Whether this is prudent consolidation or a cost-cutting exercise to pay for the rebranding programme, it looks like there are some turbulent times ahead.
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