If I asked you to name a brand of cranberry juice, is there any other brand you’d mention that wasn’t Ocean Spray? If I told you to think of a vacuum cleaner, would you most likely think of Hoover? And it would be fair to guess that when you think fast food, there’s no question––the first company you think of is McDonald’s.
While these industry behemoths continue to squash the competition, it’s often the second- or third-place companies that spend the most time duking it out. I think what fascinates me most about that process is the strategy. Last week, Wendy’s announced the launch of its new brand look and feel. It’s the first change the company has made since its last update in 1983. And while it may be clear to Wendy’s what the new objectives are, I wonder if that message will be received the way it was intended.
Wendy’s has been doing well over the past year or two. I’ve even written about it here. Newly appointed CEO Emil Brolick has been making tangible changes that are having substantial impact on market share within the fast food industry. Wendy’s “Fresh, Never Frozen” campaign, for example, suggests that the chain’s offerings are high quality. The baked sweet potato and the portobello mushroom cheeseburger recently introduced to the menu are just two more additions that the company hopes will be game-changers.
These successes have built upon a strategy that I think might serve Wendy’s well after the release of its new logo: If we’ll never win the game, then why play? Wendy’s may never top the likes of Mickey D’s or Burger King, so perhaps they should move into a new arena. (This vaguely reminds me of Apple’s original positioning to outperform Mr. Gates.)
This new step, as I’ve come to understand it, will try to make Wendy’s feel less like fast food and more like relaxed dining. In addition to the logotype changing, the restaurant’s aesthetics are meant to change inside as well—from new, lounge-like chairs to natural lighting and new uniforms for employees. In essence, Wendy’s aspires to be a classy fast-food joint that’s not as nice as Panera but better than its competition.
So if that’s the intent, it begs the question: Does this new design accomplish that “premium”-level look and feel? Well, from what I gather, an exorbitant amount of research went into it, which, if you’re in the industry, basically means the original concept was destroyed. And my instincts tell me this logo seems far too safe for such a bold move in strategy.
Care to share your own opinion? Comment below!
Author: Eric Swenson