Taco Bell, makers of all fast food loco or grande, is getting a new, streamlined logo, just in time to open a new Vegas Strip location. A new logo, ostensibly, designed to better fit into today’s multimedia, multidiscipline branding requirements than the last logo, introduced in 1995. But even though it was done with help from Lippincott, it just makes me want to retch.
The old Taco Bell logo was hardly sophisticated, but goddammit: it was proudly ’90s. The decade of Chester Cheetah, of Wayne’s World, of Clinton Sax, of OK Soda, and leopard-print leggings. It had a defiantly Double Dare aesthetic that double dared you to Make a Run for the Border on Cheesy Gordita Crunches and Bacon Cheeseburger Burritos. It was joyful and colorful, fun and innocent, and it didn’t care if you were judging it–which is the perfect quality for a fast food chain in America to have.
There’s a lot to say about how boring the new Taco Bell logo is. The old Taco Bell logo used what appeared to be the same font as the old Dell logo, quirky, ’90s futuristic, and weird. That’s all gone now, though. The new typeface sure as hell isn’t Helvetica, but it’s close. (It’s actually Akzidenz-Grotesk, every company’s favorite Helvetica-lookalike.) Meanwhile, the bell icon’s still there, but it’s been stripped of all its zing: at best, it now looks like the icon of a forgotten Albuquerque offshot of the Ma Bell Breakup.
This follows a general trend toward minimalism in logo design these days. Across the country, the perpetual design brief is to strip logos down to their barest essentials, so they can exist in as many contexts as possible. We’ve seen some great work following this approach, like Pentagram’s new Mastercard logo. But Taco Bell’s effort makes the logo as gray, mushy, and sickening as any of the beef slurry its employees get paid to slop. “As little design as possible” does not mean you should turn your logo into a vampire, draining all its life blood so that it can live forever.