Working together with San Francisco-based Tesser, Inc., KFC is testing a new logo that
signals a shift in the company’s strategy of the past 20 years. Scott Bergren, KFC’s Chief
Marketing Officer, wants to reconnect with what was best about the brand. “When KFC
came to us initially, we knew it would be important to keep the brand’s heritage intact
while updating it for contemporary audiences,” says Tre Musco, Tesser’s Chief Creative
Officer and CEO. “The trick would be to move the brand forward without alienating its
loyal consumer base.”
Brand equity studies conducted in 2000 made it clear that consumers had lost the sense
of authenticity which had made the brand so compelling in the first place. This research
showed that 75% of U.S. consumers said they no longer associate the Colonel with the
food. They think of him only as a brand “salesman.”
There was also a real desire to move the brand forward. “Consumers want us to be more
relevant,” says KFC president Gregg Dedrick. “We need to be more top-of-mind.” A
successful solution needs to blend both the heritage and relevance aspects of the brand
while propelling the brand into the 21st century.
Tesser redesigned the Colonel to appear more youthful, energetic and friendly. “Colonel
Sanders was 65 when he started his franchise,” says Musco. “But today’s 65-year-olds
are different than those of 40 years ago; they’re keeping active and looking younger
longer. We wanted to make him look as if he were 65 today.”
Another key change is in what he’s wearing: Gone is the trademark white suit. In its
place, a red apron puts the Colonel in context for a new generation of consumers. “We
wanted to celebrate the chef behind the brand. By putting him in an apron, we’re
establishing his passion for cooking and ‘hands-on’ attitude towards everything he did,”
explains Musco. “But we kept the string tie,” he laughs. “We knew he just wouldn’t be the Colonel without it.” The bucket was another key piece of brand equity, and the new
KFC signage features the revamped Colonel in an abstracted bucket shape.
The line work here is simple and organic, making it more approachable than the old logo,
while a new, more international color palette – with rich reds and warm flesh tones –
makes the Colonel appear friendly and inviting.
The result is a bold revitalization of a classic American icon which is instantly recognizable
while making it clear that “this is not your grandfather’s KFC.” Consumer research
has been overwhelmingly positive. The new logo seems to be, in the words of Gregg
Dedrick, “the essence of KFC.” A quote from the 2004 research on the new logo reads,
“(Consumers) feel the Colonel, although still elderly, looks younger, thinner and healthier
– more contemporary and more of a fit with today...he is friendlier and more approachable.”
He seems almost, well, “hip.” And that suits KFC fine.
Since 1993, Tesser has been building powerful brands by focusing on the big picture: 360
degrees of uncompromised thinking on branding and integrated design. As strategic
consultants, designers, and branding experts, Tesser helps clients create both long-term
brand value and highly effective design programs. Tesser provides a unique mix of
strategy, naming and verbal branding, corporate identity, retail design, merchandising,
packaging design, and web site design.
Based in San Francisco, Tesser's clients include Quiznos Sub, Musco Family Olive
Company, Clorox, Chevys Restaurants, Noah's Bagels, Dairy Queen, Rubio's Fresh
Mexican Grill, Figaro's Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Harkins Theatres, Rock
Bottom Restaurants, Pat and Oscar's Restaurants, Gap, Gymboree, and Fox Shox.