Pizza Hut Going Back to the Future

CNN Business – Pizza Hut wants to return to its winning ways. So it’s rebooting the logo from when it dominated the American pizza market.

The pizza chain is replacing its current round logo with a retro logo that hasn’t been used in two decades, the company said. Compared to its current logo, the old version features its red roof more prominently and the Pizza Hut font is bolder and in black.

Pizza Hut used the original logo from 1967 to 1999, when it was the by far the biggest pizza company in the world. Its market share has been dwindling since, and Domino’s overtook Pizza Hut last year.

In an era of reboots, revivals and throwbacks a move like this shouldn’t surprise anyone. Pizza Hut brought back the P’Zone earlier this year, and with this move they’re just setting the destination time on the DeLorean a little further back. There’s just one problem…

It had been years since I last ordered a calzone from a restaurant, so I was excited to grab a P’Zone during the NCAA tournament. When I bit into that thing, though, I wasn’t sure if I was eating the P’Zone or the box that it came in. It tasted like dry, overcooked dough with hardly any meat or cheese inside. The pizza I got wasn’t much better. To me, Pizza Hut pizza tastes more like a collection of dough, sauce and cheese than an actual pizza.

I’m all for nostalgia – I’d love to see the Patriots trot out their ’90s Drew Bledsoe jerseys next season – but let’s not pretend that this is move by itself will change anything for Pizza Hut. I probably stopped regularly eating Pizza Hut when the Hut near my house closed up shop earlier this decade. Did it close up shop because pizza eaters didn’t like the new logo? Or did pizza eaters just wise up to overpriced dough, sauce and cheese, and get sick of sitting in restaurants that hadn’t been updated since the Bad News Bears ate there?

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There is hope for the Hut, though. Pizza Hut sister brand Taco Bell has reinvented itself into a full-fledged lifestyle brand. They are constantly generating buzz with unique menu offerings, and the Taco Bell Cantina was a highlight of The 300’s Vegas Expedition. All of that has nothing to do its logo. There’s no reason why Pizza Hut can’t do what Taco Bell is doing – or what Domino’s did. As I said on November 2, 2017:

Domino’s Pizza has had a resurgence over the last ten years. Their stock closed at $2.83 per share on November 20, 2008. At the start of trading today, their stock was at $178.44 per share. That’s an increase of more than 6,000%. What happened? Domino’s realized there were problems. Their recipes were stale and their service was subpar. Just as bad, they weren’t “cool.” So they very publicly reworked and improved their pizza recipes in 2009. They tweaked their menu. They introduced the Pizza Tracker. They were no longer the company with delivery drivers allegedly killing people on the roads to deliver pizzas in 30 minutes. They became a hip, self-deprecating company, a social-media darling that served affordable pizza in tough economic times.

There’s room in the market for both Domino’s and Pizza Hut to be successful. Between their sister brand and pizza competitor, the playbook for them should be pretty clear. It can start with a logo reset, but it certainly can’t end there.


PS – Domino’s stock (DPZ) opened the day today trading at $275.57 per share. About a hundred bucks higher than when I wrote about it last, and now a solid 9637.46% higher than on that fateful day in 2008. Why don’t I take my own advice?

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