In the late 70s, two Americans living in Paris found themselves wishing for a restaurant resource that reflected the opinions of their foodie friends rather than those of professional critics or mystery reviewers.
The couple, Nina and Tim Zagat, ended up creating the guide they’d always wanted themselves. The subsequent success of what became the Zagat Restaurant Guide introduced people to the idea of user-generated content and helped to democratise restaurant criticism forever.
But after a decade behind a paywall, and an acquisition and rebrand overseen by Google in 2015, the team behind Zagat felt that the focus and identity of the brand had shifted away from what was important: the voices of its community.
In 2018, The Infatuation acquired Zagat with plans to return to the brand’s roots via a new user-generated review platform, which finally launched earlier this year.
The Zagat team brought in Brooklyn-based studio Franklyn to create a new brand system and campaign assets that would better represent the review site’s history while also feeling contemporary.
Franklyn started by giving the brand’s existing wordmark a typographic polish, shifting from Helvetica, which was used for its original 1979 iteration, to a more modern and digital-friendly cut of Neue Haas Grotesk by the Commercial Type foundry.
While the new logo has a modernist sensibility rooted in the late 1970s with its strong grids, clear hierarchies and simple compositions, the studio introduced more flexibility in the rest of the brand system.
Key design elements include a digital-forward approach to colour, iconography, hierarchy and animation, along with a more fluid typographic palette featuring Avant Garde, Cheltenham and Tungsten.
“The typographic system allows Zagat and its community to sing praises with a shout, heckle with humour or speak with sarcasm,” says Franklyn. “Dry, terse, practical, insulting or hilarious – there’s always a way to bring reviews, quotes and one-liners to life within the brand.”