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KFC’s strapline, no longer ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’

Household name, Kentucky Fried Chicken, recently made a HUGE change to its branding.

Diane Hall


The upshot of KFC logo on the corner of a building

After 64 years of using their infamous strapline: ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’, they’ve effectively deleted the words ‘Finger Lickin’, adding instead: ‘That thing we always say? Ignore it. For now.’

The company insists this move is not a change of direction, and neither is it permanent; they feel that, in the middle of a pandemic, the act of licking food residue from our fingers is perhaps not a hygienic one. They, therefore, don’t want this being symbolic with their brand at this moment in time.

It’s a wise move, and it shows that, no matter how large a business, how ingrained their branding may be, it can always be changed. If something can be deemed inappropriate or it no longer fits with the times we’re in (think of the ‘Golliwogs’ Robertson’s marmalade labels used to sport), it’s time to change it—you risk greater damage to your brand by not doing so.

Rather than seeing their change of branding as a backtracking move or a problem, KFC are promoting the change of strapline as a positive, i.e. the company taking a stance against a global problem. They’re showing that they’re in tune with the challenges their customers are currently facing. Being vocal about the change to their branding—rather than opting to change it discreetly, in the hope no one would notice—shows that KFC understand the power of good marketing.

Picture of Colonel Sanders, KFC mascot and founder

Picture of Colonel Sanders, KFC mascot and founder
Picture of a city street in Chine containing a KFC

Colonel Harland Sanders helped open the first "Kentucky Fried Chicken" franchise in Utah in 1952

Kfc have over 18,875 KFC outlets in 118 countries and territories around the world.

Whilst, ultimately, the change the company has made seems to be a visual one, it’s actually allowed KFC to make a huge cultural change. The wider public is focusing on the company’s ideals, and not so much about their offering being largely classed as ‘junk food’. A successful rebrand goes much deeper than a redesign of a logo…it can show a company’s new direction, it can highlight a product’s changing audience, it can modernise a brand and bring it bang up-to-date.

Take Burberry. Once seen as a ‘chavvy’ brand characteristic of gang culture, more recently it has enjoyed a resurgence as a designer brand, after celebrities such as Emma Watson and Kate Moss publicly showed they were fans of the distinguishable print. The product hardly changed, but the audience moved a mile. Proof that a product being lower in price doesn’t always equal greater revenue, this shift saw sales rise by 27% as the brand began to be viewed as ‘designer’ rather than ‘bargain bucket’.

Old Spice is another example. Go back a generation and this aftershave was seen as the go-to gift for Dad or Granddad, along with a new pair of socks. No one under the age of 50 would have chosen the fragrance as something to douse themselves in. Fast forward to today, and the brand has a hold in a younger market after popular influencers and bloggers were used in the company’s campaigns. One marketing expert said about the move, ‘Old Spice didn’t change its logo, it changed the experience.’

If changing your brand’s audience, culture and/or experience appears easy following these examples, unfortunately, it’s not. It takes a lot of planning and the right people to execute a new campaign. It’s often not an overnight change either, it can take weeks and months for the changed message to hit home. 

What you can take from this article, though, is that it can be done. If you’ve been in business for a few years and believe that a change in your branding will damage the progress you’ve already made, think again. If KFC can do it, you can too.

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