The rebrand is the first time YO! Sushi has made a significant change to its logo since it launched in 1997. (It was founded by British businessman Simon Woodroffe and was the first to bring Japanese ‘kaiten’ conveyor belt-style eating to the UK). The company’s official name is still YO! Sushi, but the word has been removed from its logo, and the word YO! will now appear alongside Kanji script on signage and fascias.
Martin Brown, creative director at Paul Belford Ltd, says: “We felt that whilst the atmosphere and dining experience at a YO! restaurant continues to have a unique energy and buzz, the logo should also better reflect the high quality healthy food on offer. This led to a simplified, slightly gentler mark with a Japanese influence.”
An extensive brand book includes graphics inspired by Tokyo iconography: there are patterns based on road systems and the city’s famous Shibuya crossing as well as artwork from Tokyo-based illustrators. The rebrand also introduces a new typeface – Aktiv Grotesk – and photography guidelines.
In addition, Paul Belford Ltd has designed new menu covers, chopstick packaging, signage and noren curtain graphics for restaurants. The branding is being rolled out by YO!’s in-house design team and will start to appear in refits and new restaurants from this month.
The rebrand coincides with YO!’s expansion into the US, Europe and the Middle East. It now has several restaurants in the US and UAE as well as one in Saudi Arabia, two in Norway and one in Denmark.
It replaces a graphic system designed by &Smith earlier this year – in April, YO! Sushi unveiled new staff uniforms, wall graphics, menu designs and A-Boards which featured black-and-white patterns and illustrations based loosely on anime and manga art. &Smith told us the graphics aimed to reposition YO! Sushi as offering a true taste of modern Tokyo – newspaper-style menus introduced Kanji script and featured articles on Tokyo music and culture.
YO! did not confirm why it has rebranded so soon after rolling out &Smith’s graphics, but the new identity places much more emphasis on healthy eating. A new strapline reads: “Live Fast. Eat Well.” It also has a more upmarket feel: photography guidelines state images should always be “beautifully styled and lit” while Kanji newsprint and two-and-three colour graphic patterns look bold and stylish.
Cheerful illustrations of octopus, fish and sushi creatures add a fun and light-hearted touch, while patterns and Kanji script provide the brand with a rich visual toolkit based on Japan’s visual culture.
“The Tokyo influence is of course very deliberate. The brand is designed to reflect the frenetic Tokyo lifestyle and also reference the healthy menu of over 100 dishes inspired by Japanese street food and sushi,” says executive creative director Paul Belford.