Don’t let SEO suffer from this trend in exterior design.

A few weeks ago, walking through a shopping district in North Chicago, I noticed a charming restaurant with a spacious open patio. Being new to the city, I wanted to add the name of the restaurant to a running list I’ve been keeping in my phone, serving as a starting point for dining ideas in the future. Looking towards the entrance of the restaurant, I saw an abstract symbol where you’d typically find the restaurant’s name. It was unidentifiable from any logo I’d seen before and could only be explained as a cluster of lines in a polygan-like shape. Getting closer to the patio, the restaurant’s name was nowhere to be seen and eventually, I gave up, failing to gather any information necessary to search for it later for more information about the menu, hours, specials, etc., so that I could potentially make a reservation.

The use of logos or symbols as the primary marker of an establishment is a trend that I’ve noticed at several stores and restaurants in the past several months. Newer, more modern Targets often use their basic red bullseye where the “Target” lettering historically resided, recent Lululemons have stamped their brick and mortar shops with the highly coveted horseshoe, and Starbucks sometimes simply uses the iconic green mermaid to communicate its brand. In these examples, the absence of the store name likely doesn’t change consumers’ ability to recognize the store’s ownership for what it is, and it gives them a modern, simplistic aesthetic that I imagine most designers applaud.


But if your establishment doesn’t hold the instant brand recognition of a multi-billion-dollar entity, removing your business name for the purpose of design is a miscalculated mistake that will cause business to suffer, specifically through the inability to utilize local SEO. Given that 46% of all searches on Google are a quest for local information, giving your business the highest potential visibility is critical and will have significant impact on foot traffic.

In today’s digital age, brick and mortar shops not only serve as physical outlets for the sale of products and services, but they are a permanent piece of advertising, holding significant SEO value for local pedestrians and passerbys.

Often, consumers aren’t prepared or willing to visit your store when they initially pass by. It’s later, when they need something, like dinner, that they’ll visit their consideration set and search for more information before visiting. A staggering 70% of customers visit a store based on information found online.

But without a brand name, consumers won’t be able to find more information online.

Trying to find a restaurant, based on an unrecognizable logo is virtually impossible. Searching for “restaurants near me” or other unbranded terms will return a flood of results, not to mention clicking through websites in an effort to spot a specific logo will take an unnecessary amount of time and effort that very few consumers are willing to dedicate. (I did eventually find the restaurant from the example used, though it took a significant amount of research.) All of this could be resolved if consumers knew the name of your business. Searching for the name, or the branded term, would quickly direct them to your website, where they would be able to find the information they were searching for before visiting your establishment.

Unbranded restaurant search:


Branded restaurant search:


It’s natural to look to the most prolific retailers for inspiration when it comes to branding your store, but when it comes to the trend of simplifying your branding to the point of it being indiscernible, following their lead comes at the cost of customers. In the age-old battle between design and function, when it comes to labeling your business, function should always triumph. Local SEO is a powerful tool and can usher lifetime customers to your doorstep, but not without assuring your business tactics align with what’s needed to make it successful.

If you need help with your organization’s marketing strategy, contact the experts here at Engage!