Pizza Hut Goes For a Brand Reheat
November 19, 2014
November 19, 2014
Lately Pizza Hut has been a little low on the dough.
The top pizza chain has posted losses in three straight quarters and faces a change in leadership with current CEO Steve Bergren set to step aside at the end of the year. But the company is not going down without a fight.
Instead, Pizza Hut is engaging in a rebranding effort in hopes of tapping into a larger, choosier audience. Here’s their strategy for rebound and what it reveals about the company’s thought process:
Expanded menu with more original toppings
Much ink (digital and traditional) has been spilled in an attempt to capture the spirit of Millenials – too much if you ask this writer. Among the most frequently occurring descriptions is this group’s desire to branch out of the norm. We see this in office design, the ascension of craft beer and, yes, food options.
Pizza Hut is looking to throw off the boring and generic labels that can shackle chain food eateries. These updates include: choice of crust, five new toppings, six different sauces and four drizzles. Pizza Hut is certainly not the first fast food company to make this move, (McDonald’s comes to mind) but Pizza Hut is making a clear and deliberate attempt to bring in this demographic.
It’s weird to think that a company that’s currently advertising bacon and cheese-infused pizza crust is targeting a health-conscious consumer, but it is. New options offer the choice of pizza at a 30 percent caloric reduction. It makes perfect sense. The name of the game is variety. With so many diets being followed today, failure to accommodate could mean loss of business. Offering more options to customers creates more of an opportunity to make a sale.
Updating the logo
It might seem silly, but small changes to a company logo can go a long way in establishing a new identity and approach, which is exactly what Pizza Hut is looking for. The alterations give indication that things are different, at least in some capacity. Updating and relaxing employee uniforms also adds to that variation in mindset.
For a well-established company like Pizza Hut, that kind of change isn’t easy. It has an extremely recognizable, iconic logo that everyone can instantly conjure in their head. But to that end, it works in their favor. Seeing a new version is bound to elicit curiosity and interest in consumers. Even those who aren’t interested in trying Pizza Hut products would likely want to know what’s going on.
There are some extremely valuable lessons in messaging to be learned from Pizza Hut’s metamorphosis. The biggest is certainly that pride cannot get in the way of business. Though a well-established industry leader, the company recognizes that the traditional approach is failing. If it wants to compete, it needs to adapt and embrace what consumers are interested in, which is a progressive step.
On the other hand, this move comes at a time when Pizza Hut is losing money. It also comes well after a key competitor, Dominos, initiated similar changes. With a company of Pizza Hut’s size and stature, substantial change could not happen on the fly, but they are well behind schedule in the updates. While Pizza Hut is trending downwards, Dominos’ changes have propelled them upwards, and the company is challenging Pizza Hut for the top spot.
These changes are by no means automatic problem solvers. They’re designed to catch people’s attention and bring them in. After that, it’s up to Pizza Hut’s product to keep customers’ business. Hopefully Pizza Hut has made sure it can do just that.