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Chick-fil-A Shifts Brand Strategy from Kows to Customer Experiences

After more than 22 years working with The Richards Group, Chick-fil-A has ended its relationship with the agency, shaking things up for the current brand image. The agency, which introduced the “Eat Mor Chikin” ad campaign in 1995, has helped Chick-fil-A grow to become the top chicken chain in the U.S. and the country’s 8th-largest U.S. restaurant chain. The cows are also in the Advertising Hall of Fame and joined the Smithsonian Museum in July 2015.

Considering the massive success of the marketing campaign, why is Chick-fil-A moving away from the “kows”?

No Mor Kows for Chick-fil-A?

Chick-fil-A executive Jon Bridges has been working on a “Cows-plus” marketing strategy, which will rely less on its iconic mascots. The goal is to amplify the brand’s message by connecting and building relationships with new and existing customers.


“While the cows will remain an essential part of our brand and advertising, we are also working on new stories to tell. To do that, we are moving to a new advertising model to better support our brand’s growth nationwide.”

Chick-fil-A


Creating a Compelling Brand Story

Chick-fil-A’s new “Cows-plus” marketing effort is designed to move the brand story beyond the cows. The idea is to tell a compelling story focusing on the chain’s competitive advantage, and highlight topics such as quality of food, customer service, and offerings that may not have fit well into the cow theme.


“The cows are an integral part of the brand. They’re our mascot if you will. But they aren’t the brand. The brand is bigger than that.”

Jon Bridges, Chief Marketing Officer at Chick-fil-A


Branding is all about storytelling – the story of your brand – the advertising images and copy may be part of it, but the heart of the brand story is “Why” you do what you do, and why that matters to your customers. Chick-fil-A is moving away from its current narrative to focus on creating a comprehensive and compelling brand story of why Chick-fil-A does what it does, with the goal to deliver more value to its customers. 

Developing a Strong Strategy

In Building a StoryBrand podcast, Donald Miller brought on David Salyers, VP of Brand Activation at Chick-fil-A, to speak about how the brand delivers value and delights customers. 


“Ask yourself how you can deliver more value to your customers, not get more money from them.”

David Salyers, VP of Brand Activation at Chick-fil-A


David explained how to create a valuable customer experience. For customers, value equals what they get divided by what they pay, so the goal is to charge the right price and focus on the numerator [what they get] to actually create value for the brand’s customers. David also shared that “Customers that are happy to pay full price, come more often and tell other people about the brand.”

Chick-fil-A looks for ways to create valuable customer experiences by delivering quality through its products and services. The “Cows-plus” approach is a path to shift the brand’s focus on creating more personalized customer experiences through the chain’s key competitive advantages.


“The food and service there [Chick-fil-A] are so extraordinary that most of us don’t even think of it as fast food.”

Donald Miller, Building a StoryBrand Podcast


Getting Alignment in Systems

The processes, people, and enabling technologies required at every customer touchpoint must be fully aligned to successfully bring the brand to life.

Chick-fil-A serves its customers more than a simple transaction; the brand creates remarkable customer experiences. In order to accomplish this, the chain strives to bring out the best in its people at every level of the organization.

Chick-fil-A’s new mobile ordering app is a great example of the Systems that it has put in place to provide best-in-class service. The app eliminates the painful experience of waiting in a long line, giving the customer the chance to place their order from their phone. To launch the mobile ordering service, the brand offered a free Chick-fil-A sandwich to anyone who downloaded the app and created an account from June 1 to June 11. On the campaign launch date, the app went from receiving an average of about 1,500 downloads daily to approximately 400,000 downloads per day.

qsr-app-downloads


“Treat your company culture like the ultimate competitive advantage”

David Salyers, VP of Brand Activation at Chick-fil-A


Chick-fil-A’s new “Cow-plus” strategy enables the brand to focus on its core competencies and promote its best-in-class products and services. The new brand strategy will likely leverage the institutional knowledge and creative spirit behind the cows and focus on telling the comprehensive brand story with simplicity, clarity, and alignment.

Chick-fil-A introduced the famous “Eat Mor Chikin” line on a billboard in 1995; this has helped the company gain more than $6 billion in annual sales. Yet, the brand realizes it has much more to offer its customers than “Eat Mor Chikin”, which is why the company is stepping back to re-focus its efforts on telling the right Story, with the right Strategy, with the right Systems in place. Take a page out of Chick-fil-A’s book and learn how your brand can harness the power of Transformational Marketing. Discover how to bring simplicity, clarity, and alignment to your marketing efforts by downloading our eBook Transformational Marketing: Moving to the TopRight. 

Photo Credit: Flickr

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