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April 2008

Comments

Andrew Careaga

I think KFC should stick with its brand as KFC. The company has built that brand over time and it is well-known. As for your statement that initials are never as strong as a brand name, that isn't always the case. In academia, university initials connote strong brands. Think of UCLA basketball, for example, or USC football. KFC could work. If the company tinkers with the name too much, it could do more harm than good.

Andrew Careaga

P.S. - I worked for a KFC (then known by its full, original name) in high school in the '70s, and last year the university where I work changed its name. So I have some experience in both the fried chicken business and in the name-change game.

Tom H. C. Anderson

I completely agree and wrote about something similar in my blog last week: http://www.tomhcanderson.com/2008/04/12/burger-kink-too-weird-mcdonalds-not-honest-both-could-learn-a-thing-or-two-from-white-castle/

McDonalds is doing exactly the same thing, trying to position themselves as healthy. In the research Anderson Analytics GenX2Z has been doing among 17-24 year olds since 2005 the consistently say negative things about McDonalds advertising, a common quote is “Who do they think they’re kidding, people don’t go to McDonalds to eat healthy”.

I think White Castle is better in this case, they use a reaper and mention hear attacks in their ads. More truthful, at least to the important 17-24 year old demograpics this seems to work better.

-Tom

Heidi

You and I were thinking the exact same thing: Kentucky Chicken! I think that name would allow them to expand into rotisserie and other types of chicken they currently don't offer, and which their proposed LONG name will exclude. As Kentucky Chicken (or even Colonel Sanders Chicken, as another comment suggests, though I think Kentucky Chicken has a better ring to it), they could eventually move in on Boston Market more effectively.

Aki Kuwabara

I echo the sentiment of the previous two posters. The same principle also applies to other fast food restaurants: chasing and/or caving in to competition is a surefire way to weaken ones brand. People know that fried and fast food are unhealthy; however, they will still eat them. Demand may fluctuate over time, but will not disappear.

KFC could refocus on owning and diversify within the category of fried chicken. In addition to the original recipe, the chain could offer different menus in different regions and countries (i.e. chicken fried steak in the Southern states, chicken katsu/karaage in Japan).

Don

Why not stick to their guns and keep Kentucky Fried Chicken as-is? Sure the brand may decline, but all brands have a life-cycle and the death of a brand is as natural as its birth.

They are too late to the grilled chicken party anyway; they aren't first, they don't bring anything particularly unique to the customer, and they risk making their current core customers (fried chicken eaters) feel guilty about their eating habits.

Calle & Company

What should they do? What a great question. What got the brand started? Fried chicken. What are they afraid of? Being themselves. Or is it rejection? A strong brand can be fewer things to fewer people. It gets watered down when the "managers" try to make it more things to more people. A brand is simply something that got started that caught on. As a kid in Louisville, KY I had lots of opportunities to see and speak with Harlan Sanders as he drove around town in his trademark white convertible Cadillac with red leather interior. My father was one of the guys that "commercialized" the secret recipe. We had a 55 gallon drum of the powder in our garage for years and we used it often. Kentucky Fried Chicken should stop being afraid of who it is, and just be Kentucky Fried Chicken - the same way Howard Schultz is beginning to take Starbucks back to the way IT was - fewer things to fewer people. You either loved that dark roast coffee, or you didn't. The age of the cult brand is here again. Amen for solid, product-based differentiation.

Geoff Livingston

Brilliant as usual. They've gotten away from their core competency, and still haven't figured it out. I like your solution.

bob

Why not change the name to "Colonel Sanders Chicken"

Caleb

Sounds like a cool suggestion. The ability of KFC to snatch a huge mind share, having a broad word like "chicken" attached to their name is certainly helpful. Would it also help if they branch out into a totally different type of restaurant (only grilled chicken maybe?) and user their resources on that? Sort of like experiment on other non-friend ways to deliver a delicious chicken meal.

Gordon

I agree with Laura: they should focus on the chicken element. They could slowly reduce the emphasis on the "fried" over a period of two or three years. Kentucky Fried Chicken; Kentucky (Fried in smaller font size) Chicken; Kentucky (Fried reduced again) Chicken until we arrive at our destination, "Kentucky Chicken." This weaning method is much better than going cold turkey. They could go the other way, of course, and start emphasizing the fried part -- and educating us fatties on the dangers of the carbs.

Harmy

Could no one see that "Kentucky Fried and Grilled Chicken" can mean, "Kentucky chicken that has been fried and then grilled?" What a bizarre and distracting image.

BIG Kahuna

I wrote this same article on April 3rd called Kentucky Fried Boneheads, check it out:

http://www.brandidentityguru.com/wordpress/?p=581

B3N // 003

Money must make people retarded. It works exponentially, one would think. If the corporate fat cats would ask Joe Everyman, they would certainly find out that their naming concept sucks in a major way.

Perhaps they have spent too much time marinating their skin under the soft bask of the rotisserie lights; whatever the case, these gentlemen need to get out and get in touch with reality -- go see a movie, talk a walk through the park, interact with other humans beings!

Alas, it is possible that I'm nothing more than a biting cynic and that my opinion matters nil. They are the ones making the big money, and I'm sitting here, waiting for my iPhone to ring with a job offer that was promised to me today. w00t! God bless the inversion of skills to scrilla.

B-the-W: Brand Indentity Guru has been doing a cheeky lil' section on bad brand names, such as "Blow" and "Bimbo" (which sounds like a KNOCKOUT crack house combo, I know). Check out his fantastic blog: http://www.brandidentityguru.com/wordpress/. Have a great Friday, a'body.

Dileep


Hi Laura,

I am commenting on the Indian scene.
Although KFC had come to India in 90s, there was opposition then regarding fried chicken and unhealthy food habits. then there were issues highlighted in newspapers regarding difficulties for agrofarmers and local broiler chicken growers. Then finally after 5-6 yrs in 2004, they came back and opened shops in metros, now people find going to such KFC shops a better option, out of the ambience it has, anmd doesn't pay attention to the premium price. But I do feel that expansion of its name just makes it more inconspicuous- like doing a mistake first and to correct it, they do a careless mistake again. But in emerging markets like India and China, where consumers are changing their lifestyles to 90s Americas, it still has a chance to develop a wider market!
regards,
Dileep

David McElroy

Is this a late April fool's joke? Surely nobody is THAT stupid. I found the press release about grilled chicken on the KFC web site, though, and it referenced the name. I couldn't care less about the future of the company, but it just makes my head hurt to know that allegedly smart people can make this kind of boneheaded decision. How do execs like this stay employed? Something else I read on another site said that franchisees are being given the option to re-brand with the new name. I hope the smart ones will tell the corporate folks what to do with their stupid idea.

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