Upgrading the KFC Experience
I-AM first worked with KFC on upgrades to their experience as part of a project to ensure the brand stays compelling, relevant and expresses its points of difference in a fast-evolving food and beverage retail scene. Our experience in the sphere of ‘Fast Casual’ food service came together with innovations by KFC in servery processes, resulting in a space that communicates the core positioning of ‘Always Original’, realness and a passion for great, freshly prepared food that brings people together.
KFC Communications Strategy
The focus areas were:
- Servery counter: ensuring customers intuitively understood the ‘select’ and ‘collect’ process, at the same time as being triggered to appreciate and order the developing hot drinks, breakfast and sweet treats offer. This brought together communications, physical layout and materials.
- Dining zones: introducing more variety of seating options and multi-sensory ambience, making customers feel more at home whilst creating a sense of gathering
- Suite of communications: expressing the sense of coming together and sharing, visualising freshness and freshly prepared, and communicating key community and sustainability points of difference
The resulting restaurant design palette positions KFC as a meeting point between fast food and fast casual experiential dining, embracing a broad spectrum of consumers and meaning that KFC sets a new standard by bringing to life its core values as a spatial experience.
KFC’s Bold New Expression in its Restaurant Concept Design
There are dramatic changes afoot in the world of ‘Quick Service Retailing’, driven by new levels of consumer expectations and dynamic new food experiences. This revolution is exemplified by KFC’s mission to express its true values, much loved product proposition and brand story, through the experience in its restaurants. Having already taken KFC several leaps forwards in its transformation through small, fast-casual metropolitan concept, I-AM secured the brief to update the design, customer journey and in-restaurant communications for KFC’s primary format.
KFC’s story is irresistible; and its personality has always been inseparable from a joyful love of chicken. Lately a bold energy and vibrancy is driving KFC in the UK, celebrating the brand’s story, taking pride in the simple, joyful deliciousness of Finger Lickin’ Good fresh fried chicken and the social aspect of bringing people together over a KFC. These themes are being newly expressed through a spirit rooted in KFC’s Southern heritage but brought to life with a bold new contemporary cultural relevance. In the restaurant space, we brought this to life through a range of vibrant creative messaging and imagery strategically placed along the key moments in the Customer Journey.
KFC’s History & Values
KFC’s story began with founder Colonel Harland Sanders opening his small stopover by a highway in Kentucky feeding drivers his fried chicken. Despite the Great Depression the success, reputation & appeal of his ‘11 herbs & spices’ referencing his ‘Original recipe’ grew, captured by his phrase ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’. The Colonel introduced ‘The Bucket’ for friendly gatherings feasting on fast, fresh chicken together. Today, this simple concept reaches fans new and old in 118 different countries.
The Customer Journey & Brand Communication
For the core formats of larger dine-in restaurants combined with Drive Thru, we responded to KFC UK’s brief with a model that expresses the proposition’s contemporary relevance & appeal, across re-defined steps in the Customer Journey. This revolutionised KFC experience required highly distinctive design assets orchestrated as a toolkit of principles and creative suite of assets suitable for refitted and new-build sites, covering exterior architecture, new ordering/serving processes, brand & product communication and interior design.
Internal and external signage & graphics is executed with a sensibility more ‘fast casual’ than ‘fast food’ – from ‘Hello, What’s Cluckin?’ in the windows to neon signage around the store. Messaging throughout the store is bold and expressive, communicating of KFC’s heritage and brand USPs without overplaying them or dominating the concept of a great space to enjoy KFC in. Digital screens allow for consistent new promotional content; and self-order kiosks – KFC’s first in the UK – revolutionise customer flow and process.
KFC Restaurant Concept Design
The vibrant new KFC restaurant design is built on concept principles and developed creative solutions for a range of scheme types, from new build to re-fit. Across these formats, we expressed compelling themes from the KFC story through barn-inspired architecture, materials and colour application, drawing out themes of a love for quality chicken. Overhead rafters and chicken-wire chicken figures, frame a multi-layered, warm space configured around KFC’s first trial in the UK of digital kiosk-based self-ordering.
KFC’s brand colours are complimented with textural finishes, such as wooden planks and eco-friendly panels suggestive of straw. As much as operationally feasible, we removed barriers from the front and back of house – moving away from the traditional fast food servery view to a clear view into the kitchen more in keeping with contemporary fast-casual models. For the internal dining experience, we focused KFC’s notion of uniting people through food, especially with key pieces of furniture such as the long KFC Colonel dinner table incorporating brand messages “Feeding Truck Drivers to Millionaires”, while digital screens display stories of KFC’s local community engagement as well as brand and promotional visuals.
The drive through experience is re-engineered and designed to transform the exterior architecture and echo the key steps and themes of the in-store journey, becoming an integral part of the whole whilst being a compelling visual attractor and brand statement in its own right.
With these bold & confident new KFC formats we have created a familiar beacons of temptation through engaging graphic messaging and signage design complimenting an enhanced customer flow and experience.
The immediate reception of the pilot stores shows dramatic results, performing well above like for like targets for these formats – demonstrating an increased appeal across audiences while shifting the brand’s perception from ‘fast food’ to ‘fast good food. All whilst carefully retaining the existing recognition of the KFC brand through distinctive brand assets. Roll-out across the UK estate is proceeding at pace!