USA Today: Southern, 'finger lickin' Roots Help KFC Revamp

KFC unveils Tesser's new Colonel Logo

April 2005
USA Today article

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."

Tesser knew that a major function of the redesign would involve returning KFC to its authentic roots while reintroducing the Colonel to a new generation. Older audiences know and love the Colonel, but many young consumers don't know he was a real person" a passionate cook and innovator who not only invented a better way to fry chicken, but who would put on an apron and cook some up for you himself long after he'd become famous.

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.

"It was clear that both the Colonel and the bucket had strong positive associations for the consumer base," says Musco. "We knew we'd have to give consumers more cues as to who the Colonel was and what he stood for."

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.

View all of Tesser's work for KFC in our Portfolio Section here.