Square One to Brand P.F. Chang’s China Bistro

Square One has been tapped to handle an initial branding project for restaurant chainP.F. Chang’s China Bistro. The assignment is estimated in the mid-seven figures.

The project will initially consist of research and in-ternal identity work rather than consumer advertising, agency and company officials said.

“It’s really doing a gut check,” said Shelley Straub, P.F. Chang’s marketing director. “We have been handling everything in-house for the last eight years and realized that as we’re growing we want to make sure our brand is solid and the way it is conveyed outward is truly what the brand is.”

The selection of Dallas-based Square One followed an informal review process led internally by Straub.

“They’re looking for an agency to come in and immerse them in their business … and that’s something we think we specialize in,” said agency partner and new business director BillFerguson.

Publically held P.F. Chang’s is based in Scottsdale, Ariz., and operates 52 restaurants across the country. The chain continues to openup to 15 new locations each year in both its upscale China Bistro restaurants and its more informal, takeout Pei Wei Asian Diner brand.

“It’s the first national Chinese restaurant chain that’s trying to create a brand,” noted Square One partner Ernie Capobianco. “Historically, these have usually been mom-and-pop shops.”

For now, “I wouldn’t expect to see anything new and different from us at all,” said Straub. “If the research tells us we’ve been missing the mark, you’ll see us tweaking some things a little.”

The challenge, she said, is to maintain the restaurants’ feel as the chain continues its expansion.

The company reported a 41 percent increase in revenue to $69 million during the fourth quarter ending Dec. 31.