After nearly 50 years of existence, full-service pizza chain Mellow Mushroom is getting its first rebrand, complete with a new logo, color scheme and website that are designed to update the brand for the digital age.
Founded in 1974 in Atlanta, Mellow Mushroom today has 163 locations, each with its own personality. Franchisees will hire local artists to paint murals on the walls and install other elements unique to their locations. The quirks are such that some customers mistakenly believe their local unit is one-of-a-kind. And for years, the chain’s fun, funky interiors have made the dine-in experience a major draw.
But times have changed in the restaurant industry, and for Mellow Mushroom. These days, about 30% of its business comes from pickup and delivery; at some locations that number is more than 40%. Increasingly, guests are interacting with Mellow Mushroom online rather than in person.
“We’ve been leaning for decades into that individuality,” said VP of Brand Development Anne Mejia. But with the shift to online, “We wanted to lean more into the brand.”
That's why Mellow Mushroom’s new website is a key element of the rebrand. Previously, the chain had two websites—one for online ordering and one for the brand itself. It has combined them into one site that gives online ordering a prominent position and also features Mellow Mushroom’s new ad campaign: “Welcome to the Mellowverse.” The play on “metaverse” is aimed squarely at online customers.
The changes are also designed to appeal directly to Gen Z, who are digital natives and have an affinity for brands, Mejia said. “We feel like there’s a lot of synergy with Gen Z.”
At the same time, Mellow Mushroom wanted its new look to highlight its core values: a commitment to high-quality food combined with a “come as you are” approach to hospitality. Those are embodied in its new logo, Mejia said.
The loopy, dough-like “Mellow” lettering is designed to reflect the brand’s laid-back atmosphere, while the more structured “Mushroom” points to its attention to detail and food quality. In the middle is the brand’s namesake mushroom—or is it a pizza slice? “We call it the pizza mushroom,” Mejia said.
The brand chose purple because it harkened back to Mellow Mushroom’s origins in the psychedelic ’70s and provided a good anchor for other colors.
Signage featuring the new logo will start showing up at restaurants gradually, Mejia said. The update will appear more immediately on employee uniforms and menus and then on its pizza boxes this spring.
And while the chain’s branding and colors will be changing, Mellow Mushroom wants each of its restaurants to keep their own identity. “[Franchisees] are really proud of the creative elements of their restaurants because that’s what makes their restaurants unique,” Mejia said.
The company is also exploring new kinds of restaurant formats as it maps out future growth plans. A counter-service prototype set to open in Atlanta’s Grant Park will allow the chain to experiment with a new service style, technology and menu items in a smaller footprint.
“Especially with the shift to off-premise, we’re looking at, does it have to be 4,500 square feet?” Mejia said. “What can we do in 3,000 to 3,500 square feet and what does that look like?”
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