Wendy's pigtails get a makeover

The burger chain is revamping its logo and image amid stiffer competition and regaining some of its lost mojo.

By Jonathan Berr Oct 11, 2012 11:35AM
Wendy's (WEN) is headed in a new direction, and consumers seem to like it. But it remains to be seen whether Wall Street's appetite will be whetted. 

The chain on Thursday unveiled its first new logo in nearly 30 years while at the same time pushing a new "ultra-modern" restaurant design.

Instead of the boxy, old-fashioned lettering against a red and yellow backdrop, the new logo features the chain's name in red against a clean white backdrop, The Associated Press reported. An image of the smiling redheaded girl in pigtails floats above, looking more vivid and not quite as childlike.

In an interview with the AP, CEO Emil Brolick said he was encouraged by consumer feedback in testing dozens of new logo variations over the past several months.

"When we pushed things too far, they very much reeled us back," he said, noting that it showed just how attached people are to the brand.

It's perhaps the most significant logo update since founder Dave Thomas opened the first Wendy's in 1969, and  it comes as the company struggles to redefine itself amid intensifying competition.

courtesy Wendy'sBrolick, who was hired about a year ago, has had other successes in reinvigorating the chain. Customer service is improving, as noted by independent observers such as Zagat. Unfortunately, investors always want more.

Wendy's, which has called 2012 a "transition year," slashed its earnings outlook in May as rising commodity costs ate into profits. Its shares have barely budged this year, and new menu items have gotten mixed reviews. When discussing the heavily promoted W Burger, GrubGrade noted that while "it may leave you a little disappointed immediately after experiencing it, when you really look back on it in perspective, you might find, like me, that it really wasn't too bad after all."
The company, based in Dublin, Ohio, unloaded its struggling Arby's chain last year and is regaining some of its lost mojo. Same-store sales have risen for the past five quarters, a noteworthy accomplishment in uncertain economic times. And it doesn't plan to rest on its laurels.

Wendy's is providing as much as $10 million to franchisees to "re-imagine" their restaurants in 2013 with natural lighting, WiFi service, lounge seating, fireplaces, flat-screen TVs and digital menu boards. By year's end, Wendy's expects to have overhauled 75 restaurants and will accelerate the pace of "image activation rebuilds and remodels" in 2013 and 2014. Half of the company-owned restaurants will be remodeled by the end of 2015.

Wall Street seems to have faith in Wendy's. The average 52-week price target on the stock is $5.05, about 20% higher than where it currently trades. Unless the economy heads into a death spiral, Wendy's should be fine. Then again, the same could be said for its larger rivals, such as McDonald's (MCD).

In the coming months Wendy's needs to back its talk about changing its brand with results. 

Jonathan Berr is long McDonald's. Follow him on Twitter@jdberr.

Oct 13, 2012 6:05PM

I'm glad Dave isn't around to see his new logo!  Just awful!

Oct 13, 2012 11:46AM
The food's great. I just think the new logo is cheaper for them to print.
Oct 13, 2012 8:43AM


Anyone who has not been by wendy's is missing the boat. There food is really high quality...

hands down better than MCD's, in and out, etc

Oct 13, 2012 3:41AM
she makes someone not wanna touch another burger... and the irony to put both on at the same time period jeeez....
Oct 13, 2012 3:40AM
i dont care about the logo i just care about the commercials where on one we have a "kinda" (not so much) cute redhead then tomarrow we have the real wendy  fat and plump eating burgers for 40 yrs... **** the logo 
New font looks so....ugly and cheap. I hate it.  I love familiarity as most people do. This isn't familiar...it's a horrible design.  GO BACK TO THE OLD ONE!
Well thanks for the comments to my posts. First off the dimwitt that called me a democrat doesn't seem to know that it's people not parties that makes these poor excuses for food. Second Wendy's does employ a huge amount of people so they do matter for families that need to live in a home and have food of their own to eat.

Third just because this is a comment section doesn't mean you need to show off your mama's embarrassment by using close to foul mouthed. The old cleche :" have you kissed your mama with that dirty mouth" comes to mind.

Back to the dirt on Wendy's. Take that logo money and give people raised but first fire the guys that don't know a fry from a toilet plunger PLZ. I would love to work for your company. The consensus is older americans have no place in this world. So what do we do with our time while we wait to die? THis make comments on how bad our food was.

Oct 12, 2012 11:24PM

the sign looked OLD FASHIONED  just like Dave made his hamburgers "THE OLD FASHIONED WAY"  WHEN SOEMTHING ISN'T BROKE WHY DO YOU WANT TO FIX IT.  YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SOMEONE WNATS TO "make changes"  it goes down hill. 


just leave well enough alone there wasn't anything wrong with the way it was.

Oct 12, 2012 10:42AM


Anyone who has not been by wendy's is missing the boat. There food is really high quality...

hands down better than MCD's, in and out, etc

Oct 12, 2012 9:55AM
My previous post was more of a lament.  I just wish they had "added" a new burger, bun and fries rather than replace the ones I liked.  I understand TacoBell has done well with their dorito shell, they didn't discontinue the old taco shell, they added a new one. I'm sure Wendy's had all kinds of focus groups and tasting.  It's their call and I respect that, I just will pass them by when I am looking for fast food.
Oct 12, 2012 1:02AM
when i drive down the road i purposely look for the big YELLOW sign now the white one is going to blend in with all the others  gonna make it just that much harder to find  glad i read this or i would never know and probably drive right by  when i do to to wendy's i usually get the chili or the baked potato or both and a grilled chicken sandwich which has drastically changed it used to overflow the bun now you can barely find it in there....other than that they should spend their money on other improvements rather than changing something so familiar... just my opinion
Oct 11, 2012 11:04PM
I think Wendy's is the best fast food restaurant.  Their ingredients seem higher quality.  I don't think the logo change is a big deal.  However, I would like them to get rid of that little red headed girl in their commercials.  She's dragging everyone to Wendy's for bacon cheese burgers and she's the size of a twig.  I don't buy it. 
Oct 11, 2012 7:39PM
Utterly ridiculous.  I will eat at Wendy's no matter what the lettering (or Wendy's pigtails) looks like.  Also, KFC is still Colonel Sanders Kentucky FRIED chicken no matter how you try to present it. 
Oct 11, 2012 7:36PM
Dave Thomas was a very likeable  fellow, and a great spokesman for his company.  He did a lot of things right but times change, and to be successful changes have to be made.  Good luck.
Oct 11, 2012 7:33PM
The only "fast food" restaurant chain I eat at is Waffle House. Why? The food is made fresh to order, and they can't hide behind a wall or other obstacle. You can see who is handling your food, and watch them cook it. If the cook looks nasty {seldom do at WH}, just walk out. Believe me, the others have PLENTY to hide.
Oct 11, 2012 7:27PM
The secret to a good Wendys burger is add two packets of their chili seasoning to the top of the meat.  It really puts the flavor back.  I often get a couple extra if I can it helps the micky double burgers I buy when I am cheaping out.
Oct 11, 2012 7:25PM
OMG!!! when are these stiff suits going to quit messing with perfection. Wendys image should be left alone.
Oct 11, 2012 7:22PM
Companys don't learn...leave well enough alone.  When you have a logo or brand name that is recognizable anywhere, isn't that what the goal is?  Wendy's has the best fast food of the chains.  It should worry about advertising that instead of messing with the logo.
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