Yankee Doodle Dandy’s Branding by Contino

Yankee Doodle Dandy’s Branding by Contino

Americana Gets a Modern Refresh with Contino’s Branding for NYC Restaurant Yankee Doodle Dandy’s

The iconography of America is some of the world’s strongest and central to the popularity of Yankee Doodle Dandy’s – a food truck known across NYC for its patriotic visuals and delicious chicken tenders. But that same All-American branding is also complicated by the recent increase in political divisiveness, damaging America’s once inspiring message. Hoping to evolve its brand while not losing sight of its uniquely American, fun-loving voice, Yankee Doodle Dandy’s turned to branding and design studio Contino – collaborating to conceptualize the chicken brand’s first restaurant.

A longtime partner for Contino, restaurant owner Josh Gatewood originally worked with the studio for the design of his food truck in 2016. The impact of those first designs was immediate, helping Yankee Doodle Dandy’s triple its normal business and add three trucks to service all of New York City. Eventually, Gatewood started looking for ways to expand his brand by making the leap to brick and mortar. But with that expansion came the need for a new brand.

“The initial idea was just to apply the food truck designs to the new location, but that swiftly turned into a wider brand refresh,” explains Contino Founder and CCO Jon Contino. “The original truck wrap design was very gritty and illustrative, and it didn’t feel right, especially not if we wanted Yankee Doodle Dandy’s to compete with similar businesses. In order to grow the brand and give it legs for the future, we needed to simplify and allow the product to take center stage.”

Yankee Doodle Dandy’s signature creative voice also presented a challenge against the current cultural and political landscape. Defined by a kitschy, throwback, Americana style – a tone originally meant to evoke a sense of community and fun – the brand designs suddenly became recontextualized in an unexpected way. “While the country continued to divide itself over serious issues, something as simple as the American flag became a divisive icon—so much so that we considered changing the name and the aesthetic of the brand entirely,” admits Contino. “But the brand had built so much equity over the years, that it was impossible. Instead, we decided to fully embrace its quirkiness and the universally celebrated aspects of the American brand meant to unify, not divide.“

The result was a logo, illustration and icon refresh (including chicken mascot General George Cluckington), as well as new packaging and collateral designs – tissue paper, take out boxes, cups and more – featuring simplified linework, bolder colour, and clean block print for increased legibility. Contino also helped design a look for the space itself – signage, murals and overall customer experience. “The need to stand out was a big factor in how we conceptualized the space with huge lighted signage, uninterrupted glass windows and added a canopy of twinkling lights on the restaurant’s entire ceiling,” says Contino. “We wanted to bring that backyard BBQ, food truck community vibe to the space, making sure everyone felt welcome, while still giving customers a bit of an elevated experience. And because of the pandemic, we also allowed for social distancing and a frictionless experience that let customers move in and out pretty freely.”

The new branding clearly removes itself from any potential political conversation while still creating something fun, memorable and still decidedly American. “This project shows how flexible Contino can be in a mainstream market, designing everything from top to bottom – interiors, signage, package design, animation and branding,” adds Contino. “For my whole career, I’ve connected to the rebellious American spirit. I’ve tried to stay outside the lines and play by my own rules. I’m thankful that we’re consistently working with clients like Yankee Doodle Dandy’s who appreciate our voice and let us explore our wild tendencies.”

CREDIT

  • Agency/Creative: Contino
  • Article Title: Yankee Doodle Dandy’s Branding by Contino
  • Organisation/Entity: Agency
  • Project Type: Identity
  • Project Status: Published
  • Agency/Creative Country: United States
  • Agency/Creative City: New York
  • Market Region: North America
  • Project Deliverables: Brand Identity, Packaging Design
  • Industry: Food/Beverage
  • Keywords: contino, food truck, restaurant, new york city

  • Credits:
    CCO: Jon Contino

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