Fast food isn’t meant to be a gourmet experience. It’s about speed, ease of consumption, and of course that lingering feeling of culinary guilt. So it’s hardly surprising that the kind of graphic design you find in this world is often equally lacking in nutrition—of the visual kind.
Branding success stories aside (the golden arches and the like), there’s still a sense of homogeneity around fast food companies, and their disappointingly repetitive visual identities. In London in particular, fast food outlets are clearly marked by their lookalike shop fronts and signage, so much so that in 2009 Creative Review uncovered the story of “Mr Chicken,” the man responsible for designing the signs for most of the chicken shops in the UK.
While major brands may fail to push the envelope, there’s a new wave of fast food entrepreneurs that are willing to take a risk, resulting in some surprisingly forward-thinking graphic design work. Paula Scher’s Shake Shack identity proved that investing in a well-considered identity is more than a matter of style, it’s a smart business move; her work is widely acknowledged to have played a hand in Shake Shack’s recent $1.6b IPO.