By Mike Mulvihill
The King is dead. (Not Elvis. Well, yes Elvis is dead…never mind.) As of this past weekend, the bizarre royal icon conjured from some creeper van nightmare no longer fronts for the Burger King brand. He’s been dropped for a new ad campaign that focuses on BK’s food. (However, he is still all over the web site as of this morning.)
Unfortunately, rebranding Burger King will take more than a few new ads and dropping Stephen King’s version of a Ron McDonald doppelganger. Here are three cardinal rules to keep in mind for any rebranding effort.
Credibile– From creepy frozen smile face Burger King to a food quality focus? It’s kind of hard to take consumers from one point in the brand spectrum to a whole new area code without some real changes in the physical product, the delivery channel and the customer service experience. It appears BK has a Whopper with guacamole on it. As much as I prescribe great power to the avocado (especially if they come from Mexico – yep, that’s a client plug!), BK hasn’t altered a customer experience that has been losing market share for years. Dressing up the Whopper does not suddenly overcome system wide shortcomings and transform them into a credible brand promise.
Authentic – Burger King built its business on flame-broiled burgers like you get from the backyard barbeque. The King did nothing to advance that brand. The current brand positioning is yet to be fully divulged, but BK would do well to go back to basics. Flame-broiled burgers and the Whopper would be a good start. They can deliver an authentic brand experience on these items and then build around it to higher quality, fresher tasting food. But after years of creepy King images, it may take a while.
Relevant – Yes, focusing on freshness and food quality is a trend in the food industry. But burger chains still make or break their bottom line on 18 to 35 year old guys. This campaign might be better suited for a brand like Red Robin, Five Guys or Elevation Burger. But then, the audience would skew older and more affluent or toward Moms and families looking for a healthier fast food experience. However, that is not Burger King’s sweet spot. So how relevant this new brand will be to the core market and what impact it will have on increasing share against the likes of Mickey D’s is suspect.
Brands take a long time to build. They are precious. BK squandered brand equity for years with an attempt to just be noteworthy, hip and, well, weirdly memorable. Now it wants to rebuild core brand elements that have been on the back burner for a long time. It will be interesting to see how the recovery unfolds.