How Taco Bell Became an Essential Lifestyle Brand

Where fast food, irreverence and style converge

Taco Bell Cantina
The Taco Bell Cantina in Las Vegas.
Steevven1/Creative Commons

When you take a seat at a Taco Bell, you’re probably reading yourself to consume some reasonably-priced and delicious food. But did you know that you’re also enmeshed in one of the standout design experiences in modern fast food? The chain’s creative director, Christopher Ayres, has had a lot to do with that — and in a candid interview with The Verge, he explored how Taco Bell transcended fast food to become something more. 

Ayres was involved with Taco Bell’s 2016 rebrand, and his conversation contained plenty of insightful looks into how a familiar eatery became something more. The interview abounds with observations that might just resonate the next time you’re eating a quesarito.

One of the things that Ayres emphasizes is flexibility. “I always like to say that you wouldn’t show up to your best friend’s bachelorette party in Vegas the same way you would at your grandma’s potluck,” he told The Verge. “So I think Taco Bell is the same: we dress and act differently depending on which party we’re showing up to.”

Given that Taco Bells range from standalone restaurants to a Las Vegas location where you can get married, this makes sense; it also helps inform how Taco Bell has accrued a certain cachet that other fast food restaurants might not have.

Ayres has plenty to say on a host of subjects, from Demolition Man to Olympics logos; the whole interview is a fascinating trip into one very distinctive design aesthetic. And as you read the interview, it might just spark a few fast food cravings along the way. 

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