Colonel Sanders, a well-known personality throughout the U.S. for his famous finger lickin’ good fried chicken, luscious biscuits, and other tasty sides, is ambling into a new century. KFC’s owner, Yum! Brands, tapped FRCH Design Worldwide to give the brand a modern look that captures the Colonel’s vintage flavor while marking a stark departure from the chain’s early decor, modeled on Sanders’ first restaurant, which opened in 1952.
At the core of the retail brand refresh was translating the Colonel’s irrepressible personality for a new customer. Known for his gregarious, entrepreneurial spirit, Sanders tried his hand as a farmhand, army mule tender, locomotive fireman, aspiring lawyer, insurance salesman, amateur obstetrician, political candidate, and ferryboat entrepreneur, among others, before finding success in the fried chicken business.
The refreshed retail stores take on a carnival-esque spirit that is as playful as it is functional for the fast on-the-go noshing that Americans have grown accustomed to in a new era of family dining.
FRCH has crafted a multi-year revitalization strategy to refresh 70 percent of the brand’s 4,500 retail stores by the end of 2017. Since the first new store design tested in 2014, sales have risen 3 percent, a promising sign that the new look is gaining traction among the much sought after Millennial generation. In an effort to challenge a growing number of competitors, KFC invested $185 million in domestic franchised KFC stores beginning in 2015.
Yum! Brands is the world’s largest restaurant company, with more than 41,000 restaurants in more than 125 countries and territories. KFC counts more than 14,300 restaurants in more than 115 countries, excluding the Yum! China and India divisions.
“The colonel has always been at the core of everything we do here at Kentucky Fried Chicken,” says Kevin Hochman, chief marketing officer for KFC’s U.S. operations.
FRCH’s new store design places the colonel’s iconic image front and center on the restaurant’s exterior. Sharp graphics in red and white evoke the Colonel’s memorable white suit while alluding to striped tents, suggesting his remarkable instinct for showmanship. An elevated roofline is illuminated at night, serving as a beacon of Southern hospitality.
“We saw the chance to highlight Sanders’ playfulness and outsized personality along with the brand’s traditional focus on hospitality,” says Paul Lechleiter, chief creative officer at FRCH.
“The codes of Southern hospitality are an unwritten and subtle set of rules that highlight generosity of spirit and gratitude. We aimed to amp up those codes in a thoughtful, quintessentially Southern way where even the littlest things count in big ways. We played a lot with developing a vocabulary around scale in relation to the brand heritage, which led us to exaggerate the KFC brand colors, then soften the image with rustic red shutters to add a welcoming effect.”
The interior features family-style seating called the ‘Colonel’s table,’ an oversized rustic table set for flex seating. To foster a more meaningful relationship between the customers and brand, a photo wall showcases the Colonel’s legacy as one of the South’s original “celebrity chefs.”