Brand Language

When the Person Is the Brand

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Like Martha Stewart, Charles Schwab and Ralph Lauren, renowned chef Wolfgang Puck is a brand unto himself. His name evokes a promise of culinary quality, fine dining, and contemporary style. Little wonder that his enterprises have expanded from celebrated restaurants like Spago in Beverly Hills to a line of quick-serve Wolfgang Puck Express and contemporary casual Wolfgang Puck Bistro dining establishments to the retail sales of a broad array of licensed branded products, ranging from coffee and soups, frozen appetizers and pizzas, to pots and pans.

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The broader Puck’s businesses became, the more diffused his brand identity became. Joe Duffy, the principal of Duffy & Partners, the design firm commissioned to develop a visual brand language for Puck’s many enterprises recalls his first impression. “Wolfgang was going into business with various licensees and everyone who got involved created what they thought was the best representation of their product, but there was no consistent voice. All of the products with Wolfgang’s name on them looked different.”

Duffy says that he soon recognized that two things held the brand together – Wolfgang Puck’s name and his image. Both had to be a part of the visual identity. “When I met Wolfgang, it became clear that he isn’t just licensing his name. He is intimately involved in every aspect, from recipes and menus to what goes into his pizzas. He wanted his image to be prominent because he wanted to make ‘eye contact’ with the customer, he wanted customers to know that he personally was involved in the creation of whatever it was they were about to buy or eat.”

In addition to using a photographic portrait of Puck on pizza boxes and other places, Duffy & Partners developed a brand language that was flexible enough to translate across multiple media, including restaurant signage, packaging, and print and online marketing. The iconography also included Wolfgang Puck’s name, his signature, initials, and a silhouetted profile by illustrator Michael Schwab, along with a “farm fresh” palette of colors, background patterns and contemporary typeface. The effect is very personal to the man and yet is in keeping with an enterprise that is more than a single man and likely to live on over the years.

One thought on “When the Person Is the Brand

  1. Thanks for sharing the visual brand language for Wolfgang Puck's many brand extensions. This is a wonderful case study for how designers can bring consistency and coherence to multiple products that fall under one brand umbrella. I especially like the logos/monograms that allow for variety while still creating a unified “look” through a limited color palette and Puck's initials.

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