Wendy’s, O’Charley’s stay fresh with rebrand
Any good restaurant knows you need more than a tasty dish to have long-term success in the food service industry. This reality is why some of the best food in the world can be found in largely unknown holes-in-the-wall and why sometimes a restaurant with less-than-stellar cuisine mushrooms into a huge, multi-national franchise.
The magic ingredient for success can be a number of things, but more often than not, a historically successful eatery concerned about competition or looking for a business boost will try to do so by revitalizing its brand, an approach that nearly always costs a pretty penny. The process itself can involve anything and everything from new signs and logos to property renovation, internal restructuring, menu changes and staff overhauls — really anything that can/would/might change the perception of how prepared a restaurant is to fulfill the customer’s needs.
The most recent examples of this trend are the well-known fast food chain Wendy’s and the casual dining giant O’Charley’s. Up until each one’s recent brand facelift, neither had changed its image substantively since 1969 — the year both were founded. In an apparent effort to appeal to a more contemporary market, both departed from their similarly old-fashioned brands in favor of a cleaner, bolder and more streamlined approach. Wendy’s trashed its signature curlicue and literally reanimated Wendy. O’Charleys opted for bolder colors and facility renovations. And both brands transitioned to more modern-looking letterforms.
So is modernizing a brand the new necessity to keeping an otherwise successful business relevant? Not necessarily, but because the branding industry is ever-changing, one’s image must at least be adaptable. After all, any market is apt to evolve, as are its customers, their needs and their whims. So keeping a brand consistent with all of the above is paramount to avoiding the mark of a has-been.
Even the best company in the world, on a long enough timeline, would need to change its image eventually lest its customers unconsciously associate its ability (or inability) to fulfill their needs with its dated brand. Much like an “old-fashioned” double bacon cheeseburger, freshness is always essential. No company can remain relevant without at least the occasional consideration of “what do they think of us now?” And no company can remain relevant if its brand isn’t keeping up with its customers.