Fast-casual salad chain Sweetgreen unveiled a new brand identity that tries to "reimagine fast food" with a focus on social issues like climate change, according to a press release.
The overhaul has been in the works for the past year and is now being implemented across marketing and advertising, social media, physical store design, digital signage, packaging and employee uniforms. It centers on four areas: Sweetgreen's food sourcing, sustainability initiatives, workforce and the ways in which the brand taps into culture through tie-ups with chefs and other celebrities.
On the latter front, Sweetgreen recently debuted its first athlete partnership through a national campaign with tennis pro Naomi Osaka that features the new branding elements. Sweetgreen partnered with strategy and design consultancy Collins on the refresh, as well as drawing on its recently formed in-house agency led by Executive Creative Director Thomas Wilder. Wilder previously served as Collins' creative director.
Sweetgreen is putting a stronger emphasis on brand purpose with the identity overhaul and national marketing campaign with tennis star Osaka. The refresh aims to make an impact on both the local level and at scale as the marketer shines a larger spotlight on internal culture, including the treatment of its employees, and the broader values it holds regarding hot-button topics such as climate change — the "defining challenge of our generation," per the release.
One of the biggest points of emphasis in Sweetgreen's new positioning is "real food," a bid to differentiate from the rest of the fast-food and fast-casual category. The company is reworking its food photography, menu designs and packaging to more clearly promote practices like the local sourcing of ingredients and the seasonality of its offerings. Similarly, the new identity showcases sustainability initiatives that are part of Sweetgreen's goals to eventually reach carbon neutrality.
Osaka, who is also an investor in the company, appears in print ads and videos running on channels including TikTok that are popular with younger users. Sweetgreen last week introduced a special salad bowl preferred by the athlete as well as a pledge to support The Asian American Foundation as part of its work around Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Sweetgreen attempting to hone its brand mission comes as the restaurant category at large tries to navigate a rocky reopening following a pandemic year that has altered consumer habits to center more on channels like delivery and online ordering. The marketer, founded in 2007, is attempting to bring more young consumers into its fold after developing a reputation for being popular among millennial office workers. Announcing the Osaka tie-up, it cited research claiming that 65% of Gen Zers want a more "plant-forward" diet.
Sweetgreen is plotting an initial public offering in the U.S. that could arrive as early as this year, Bloomberg recently reported, citing anonymous sources with knowledge of the situation.