Architecture, Branding, and the Politics of Identity

Authored by: Mark Foster Gage

The Routledge Companion for Architecture Design and Practice

Print publication date:  November  2015
Online publication date:  November  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138023154
eBook ISBN: 9781315775869
Adobe ISBN: 9781317688754


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On May 31, 2000 the critical satire newspaper The Onion, ran a story titled “You Can Tell Area Bank Used to Be a Pizza Hut” (The Onion, 2000). This, of course, requires a few pre-loaded pieces of knowledge to piece together for a reader to get the joke—the first of which is what a “Pizza Hut” is supposed to look like. If someone was to ask a typical American what a “Pizza Tent” or a “Pizza Yurt” would look like, they could likely piece together an approximation of what you think it might look like, but not what it must look like—as for these fictional places there is no correct answer. A “Pizza Hut” however, is a different story, if you grew up in the United States, particularly in the 1970s or 1980s; odds are you know exactly what a Pizza Hut is supposed to look like. A Pizza Hut is a one storey building, with a perversely pitched mansard roof, painted bright red. Its perversity, or strangeness, is what makes it recognizable against a backdrop of multitudes of roof types, particularly on the American suburban landscape. Quite simply, it is identifiable because there is nothing else like it—or because it is strange. It is identifiable because, for Pizza Hut, the architecture is used to not only contain, but establish the brand identity of the company.

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