I-AM gives KFC a bold new expression across its UK restaurant experience

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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 food proposition and brand story, through the experience in its restaurants.

The brief and challenge:

Having already taken KFC several leaps forwards in its transformation through a small, fast-casual metropolitan concept, A bold energy

and vibrancy are driving KFC in the UK and Ireland – celebrating the brand’s story, taking pride in the simple, joyful deliciousness of Finger Lickin’ Good freshly prepared fried chicken and the social aspect of bringing people together over a KFC. We aimed to bring these themes to life with a confident new contemporary cultural relevance.

What we did:

For larger dine-in restaurants combined with Drive Thru, we responded to KFC UK’s brief with a model that conveys the proposition’s freshness and appeal, across re-defined steps in the Customer Journey. This revolutionised KFC experience required highly distinctive design assets orchestrated as a toolkit of principles, suitable for refitted and new-build sites. Our concept covered exterior architecture, new ordering/serving processes, brand and product communication and interior design.

Internal and external signage and graphics were executed with a ‘fast casual’ sensibility rather than ‘fast food’ – from ‘Hello, What’s Cluckin?’ in the windows to neon signage around the restaurant. Messaging throughout the space is vibrant and expressive of KFC’s heritage and brand USPs. Digital screens allow for consistent new promotional content; and self-order kiosks – KFC’s first in the UK – transform customer flow and process.

Across these formats, we expressed compelling themes from the KFC story through barn-inspired architecture, materials and colour application and drawing out themes of a love for quality chicken. Overhead rafters and chicken-wire chicken figures, frame a multi-layered space, configured around KFC’s first trial in the UK of digital kiosk. 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 on KFC’s notion of uniting people through food, especially with key pieces of furniture such as the Colonel’s dining table. While digital screens display stories of KFC’s local community engagement as well as brand and promotional visuals. We also incorporated brand messages, such as “Feeding Truck Drivers to Millionaires” as said by the Colonel Sanders, which embodies his warmth and hospitality – something which KFC as a brand aims to bring to life in its restaurants.

I-AM

were engaged to update the design, customer journey and in-restaurant communications for KFC’s primary format.The drive through experience is re-engineered to transform the exterior architecture and echo the key steps and themes of the restaurant journey. Consequently, becoming an integral part of the whole experience whilst being a compelling visual attractor and brand statement in its own right.

With these bold and modern new KFC formats, we have created a familiar beacon of temptation through engaging graphic messaging and signage design complimenting an enhanced customer flow and experience.

The result:

The immediate reception of the pilot restaurants shows dramatic results, performing well above like for like targets for these formats – demonstrating an increased appeal while shifting the brand’s awareness. 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!

“After already helping us to develop an innovative, small format urban design concept to unlock new London and city centre locations, we were very pleased to commission I-Am to revitalise our Drive Thru and High Street restaurant experience. Working with our Development and Marketing teams, I-AM have created a brand experience that increases our appeal, challenges perceptions, incorporates new kiosk ordering technology and brings the customer ever closer to our iconic Original Recipe chicken, which is freshly prepared every day in restaurant. There are also loads of improvements for our team member experience,” said David Batchelor, creative design manager, KFC UK & Ireland.

“The I-AM team are a genuine pleasure to work with, and really understood the balance between KFC’s existing brand recognition and our new strategic direction. The new concept pilots’ broke records for performance upon opening, continue to trade above target, and naturally we are rolling the concept assets out across our estate,” said Chris Holmes, chief development officer, KFC UK & Ireland.

“KFC is an icon. We have found it incredibly rewarding to work with a KFC client team who fully embrace the need to re-invent how the brand is manifested as a restaurant experience, in order to stay at the top of the sector, and respond to changing consumer expectations,” Pete Champion, partner & creative strategy director, I-AM.