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KFC’s Colonel Sanders’ Success In China


Do You Know Me?

Last time I wrote about Kentucky Fried Chicken’s iconic symbol, Colonel Sanders, was on Sept 27, 2010 when I looked at disappearing brand icons such as the Hamm’s Beer Bear. I wrote that the brains at Yum! Brands, Inc. determined a new logo or campaign was needed for KFC (long an also ran to McDonald’s). Why? Because such the iconic Colonel Sanders of KFC doesn’t resonate with the under-25 crowd.

I said, “I’m stunned. I honestly have no idea what KFC’s position or brand proposition is…we have chicken? Why focus on the under-25 market when the ENTIRE MARKET HAS NO IDEA WHY THEY SHOULD BUY YOUR PRODUCT!

Further ranting from me included, “Take a good, hard look at your product, the brand message and delivery of that message. If all of those are good to go, which I doubt is the case for KFC, then take on ‘re-branding'”.

The Chairman, er, The Colonel

Turns out the Colonel icon is quite effective in China. In China, KFC as achieved such dominance over McDonald’s and local rivals that Colonel Harland Sanders’ image is a far more common sight that of Mao. The secret to KFC’s success in China can be traced to its use of local ingredients on its menu and in its management team. KFC customers can purchase a bowl of congee, a rice porridge that features pork, pickles, mushroom and preserved egg, as well as a bucket of its famous fried chicken. I wonder on the congee plays with the under-25 market?

In 2010 36% of Yum’s estimated $2 billion USD operating profit comes from the 3,700 restaurants. Not bad for a brand icon that doesn’t connect with the under-25 crowd in the USA.

The take-away is don’t throw out your logo with the soup broth. Blaming poor sales on logos is an easy way out. Poor sales always point to a bigger problem. So tune up your product or service to meet the needs of your market…and perhaps you’ll learn your logo is just fine!

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