Belonging to one of the most renowned fast food restaurant chains in the world, the KFC logo has millions of fans. In this article, we are going to talk about the history of the KFC logo, and about how it is perceived by the public.
We are going to look at the KFC logos which were used before the current one. Other topics we are going to approach are the logo’s design elements, as well as some of the less-known facts about the company. So, let’s dig in and see why the KFC logo is so finger-lickin’ good.
Changes and Evolution
Over the course of its almost ninety years of existence, the company has gone through a few logos. However, the number of logos through which it went is strangely low compared to other similar restaurants. Additionally, KFC has always been praised for its impeccable timing and beautifully consistent visual identity.
The first incarnation of the KFC logo saw the light of day in 1952. It featured Colonel Harland Sanders’ head, sporting his typical bowtie, with the words Kentucky Fried Chicken to the left. This version of the logo appeared in 1952 and lasted until 1978. Being the face of the company, Colonel Sanders started being known throughout the country.
Next, the KFC logo went through a number of changes in 1978. The Kentucky Fried Chicken font was one of the biggest changes. Instead of the old hand script, the logo now sported a more professional, serif typeface. The Colonel’s face was also retouched, shortening the bow and streamlining the logo. This version lasted until 1991.
The third KFC logo came to life in 1991, and it started approaching the version we know today. This is the first instance of the logo featuring the color red, a color which would become their staple. It also started sporting blue, as designers changed the Colonel’s outline from black. The logo featured a series of progressively thicker red bars, with the letters KFC underneath.
Finally, the last version of the KFC logo until the 2006 redesign came to life in 1997. It featured the Colonel, still outlined in blue, on a red background. White is also a huge part of the logo, as it is featured as Colonel Sanders’ suit. This was the first time the Colonel was depicted as more than just his head. Three letters, KFC, complete the logo, appearing just below Sanders’ shoulder.
KFC Logo Design Elements
There are several brilliantly designed elements when it comes to the KFC logo. And today, we are going to talk about those elements used by designers to generate the company’s image as it is perceived by the public. The three main meta-design elements featured in the KFC logo are the color, the shape, and the font of the logo.
Regardless of how well a company is marketed, it will most likely fail without a good enough logo. Entire teams of designers spend weeks, if not months, attempting to come up with the perfect logos for each market sector and timeline. And it would appear like Tesser, the company in charge with the last logo redesign, did a phenomenal job.
The most recent depiction of the KFC logo has the Colonel sporting a red apron over his usual white suit. Placed on a crimson background, the logo got rid of the blue and brought the black back to Sanders’ outline. Interestingly, he also got a facelift, as designers decided to get rid of his wrinkles and other small details.
Trading blue, thinner lines for thicker, black ones was a very bold move. It was risky, because any such design change can negatively influence the way the public sees and perceives the company. And this inevitably leads to a more negative public opinion and lower sales.
However, the KFC logo did this perfectly. They kept the new KFC logo very similar to the old KFC logo, only changing a few elements. This ensured that older fans won’t be too upset by the changes, while also leaving plenty of room for redesigns.
So, the red square was replaced with a red circle, a wide-used symbol of familiarity and fulfillment. An apron was added to the Colonel’s outfit, and the KFC text was moved above his shoulder. The text was also changed from red to white, so as to contrast the background.
Color and Font
Red has been the main color of the KFC logo ever since 1991. A color frequently associated with energy, power, and determination, red also possesses some other qualities. For one, it can enhance human metabolism, creating a sensation of hunger.
Because of this, many restaurant chains use the color in their logos. Places like McDonald’s, Arby’s, Burger King, El Pollo Loco, Pizza Hut, and Wendy’s all have that figured out. However, a single color can’t really do justice to an entire brand’s image.
So, the KFC logo is also currently featuring the very relevant shades of white and black. Also frequently used by restaurant chains, white is a very good color to evoke trustworthiness and safety. It is frequently used thanks to its association with perfection and innocence. Brands with white in their logo usually have a reason to ask for their clients’ trust. In our case, the KFC logo attempts to excuse the unhealthiness of their fast-food products.
Finally, the font of the KFC logo is a modified version of the Friz Quadrata typeface. The original Friz Quadrata is an incised serif font developed by Ernst Friz and Victor Caruso in 1965. The modified version, meanwhile, only changes some small elements so as to make the text more streamlined.
Inspiration and Trivia
The KFC logo only became the KFC logo in 1991. Previously, the company was known as Kentucky Fried Chicken. However, higher-ups decided on a marketing campaign to remove any negative connotations from the name. So, as to remove the negativity inspired by the word ‘fried’, the name changed to simply state KFC.
According to multiple sources, Harland David Sanders started selling fried chicken out of his Kentucky-based restaurant during the Great Depression. He quickly recognized the franchising potential of his products and started a franchise in Utah in 1952. In 1964, he became overwhelmed by the nation-wide expansion, and sold to a group of investors.
After Sanders was recommissioned as colonel in Kentucky by the Governor of the time, he began dressing as such. This was happening in 1950, as Sanders started growing a goatee, wearing a white suit, and his classic string tie. He also started referring to himself as Colonel, with his friends first jokingly and then earnestly starting calling him that as well.
During the last twenty years of his life, Harland Sanders never wore anything other than his trademark outfit in public. He even bleached his goatee and mustache to match the white of his hair and suit. He would only use a light cotton suit in the summer and a heavy wool one in the winter. And after all is said and done, Colonel Sanders is responsible for bringing us his staple fried chicken.
Belonging to one of the most beloved restaurant chains in America, the KFC logo history is fairly interesting. The colonel, his chicken, and his eleven herbs and spices have made an impact on our culture, even competing with the previously unchallenged burger industry. For other similar articles, check out the Lexus logo, the Comcast logo, and the UPS logo.
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