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 11, 2012 12:39PM
what was wrong with the other? Easy to recognize with good "old fashion" appeal. But, leave it to the head honchos that have no clue when it comes to the consumer.
Oct 11, 2012 1:07PM
Yeah....Because the LOGO you've had for 30 years isn't good enough?? WHY fix what isn't broken!? When was the last time any of us Chose WHERE we ate based on the Logo of a company? LOL "Oh look Sweetie that Logo looks Great...Let's eat there" Stop trying to Change everything!
Oct 11, 2012 12:55PM
I think they are headed in the wrong direction. I used to get a single combo about once a week  or so until they changed the burgers. They were better before. Our local Wendy's puts so much sea salt on the fries you can't eat them, again, the old ones were better in my opinion. Change is not always good, I hardly ever go to Wendy's anymore. I miss the good old fashioned burgers and fries. A logo change isn't going to get me back. In the mean time, Burger King it is.
Oct 11, 2012 2:06PM

Remember what happened to Bill Knapp's Restaurant when they did their make-over?  Their clientel consisted of young marrieds with children,  middle agers, and old agers.  Their marketing whizzes decided they needed a make-over to draw in the 17 to 22 year olds.  Long soory short, they spent big bucks to re-decorate their restaurants and try to attract young adults.  Well, they did not attract many young adults, but they lost their current customers big time.  They quickly went out of business.

People don't eat logos, they eat food.  They want good food at reasonable prices.  And friendly employees and good service are more valued than a re-designed logo.

Oct 11, 2012 2:01PM
I remember as a kid seeing Jack-in-the-Box because of the big clown that rotated high above the street....now I have to look hard to find one.....Same thing with Wendy's.....why change the logo?....it's worked for them all these years....leave it alone....If you want to bring in the customers again, go back to your original menu items.  People don't like change.....at least most don't.
Oct 11, 2012 2:09PM
These fast food companies seem clueless.  What's with all this remaking the logo stuff?  Arbys did the same thing.  How about working on making the food better, more affordable, and getting some good customer service in the locations.  Who cares if Wendys or Arbys changes the logo or not? 
Oct 11, 2012 1:42PM

i use to love wendys hamburgers until they made it with a BIG

THICK BUN and changed everything! so now i have to get

the JR and ask for it dressed! people are so fat they keep

adding more and more bread cheese meat! enough already!

the old logo was better!

Oct 11, 2012 2:16PM

For several generations, the golden arches of McDonalds has meant lunch or dinner to kids who can not yet read---this kind of logo recognition is worth way more than stock value!!! Leave "Wendy" alone, get the menu back to what every one expects to find at Wendy's, maybe upgrade the furniture in the stores, and, just for the sake of our health, add something "good for us" to the menu.


If it ain't broke, don't be fixin' it! High-priced suits need some brains poured in!

Oct 11, 2012 1:44PM
Go back to the old "Wendy's" Hamburger and dump the "Dave" Hamburger, that will help them more
than a new logo....
Oct 11, 2012 2:51PM

Here's a different opinion of what they need, other than a new logo.  They need some franchise control so that some franchisees don't ruin the brand reputation because they hire imbeciles who are inept at running/working at one of these stores.


We're on our second franchisee for a Wendy's here in a small town in Oklahoma and it is as bad as the first one.  Poor service, bad food and now, once again, no customers.


Keep some oversight on your franchisees.  They will make or ruin your brand faster than any logo.

Oct 11, 2012 2:24PM
They need to get back to the way things used to be.

They need to take those whack fries and get those awesome thick fries they used to that went so well with a Coke and Frosty.

They need to stop raising prices to the point that a 99 cent Double Stack becomes $2.00.

Instead or increasing their menu like every other McBurger place, they need to shorten it to what they do...correct that, DID best.

That's all they get for free.
Oct 11, 2012 2:19PM

Dave had it right.......... :)

Bring back the old look and food...hell with this new stuff.

Oct 11, 2012 3:44PM
Bring back the superbar Wendy's,  that had tacos and nachos back in the 90's. It was awesome!
Oct 11, 2012 2:20PM

You would think they could find an artist who does good work...


they shoul;d also improve their image by hiring folks that SPEAK ENGLISH

Oct 11, 2012 2:21PM
Yeah the logo isn't going to get people to eat there, the food service has decreased. Like I saw someone say, they put too much sea salt on the fries, go back to the old fries and burgers and the old prices, announce that and you'll get your customers back.
Oct 11, 2012 1:18PM
And I'm with ya 'broke...I like the old fashioned logo better.
Oct 11, 2012 2:53PM

Face it, people who like Wendy's, like Wendy's. Not McDonalds or Burger King. They just don't compare as far as I'm concerned. I kind of like going in and not being annoyed by a bunch of screaming childeren. I really miss Dave. He knew how to run a hamburger joint. Not like these college educated morons now. Good food and good customer service is the key. Changing just because some over educated, over paid nitwit needs to justify his job is never good.

I have ate at Wendy's for about 6 years continually, and the service and food far exceeds anything you ever get at McDonalds and definitely Burger King.  Wendy's new burgers are larger, thicker and served on a toasted bun, wrapped and placed in a holder.  Neither of it's main competitors are even close in the quality of hamburgs, no matter what the guy below says. Greasy? That is bull, they're sandwiches are never greasy.
Oct 11, 2012 5:59PM
Dave Thomas is rolling in his grave as those in command at Wendy's reinvent the very fine wheel that he built.
Oct 11, 2012 3:40PM
Wendy's chili is the best in the country ... I think the salt could be reduced a little bit for a better CHILI.  But, the receipe is otherwise is awesome ! !  
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