New Work: Chicken Now
Over the years DJ Stout has worked on a menagerie—or barnyard—of agricultural and animal related design projects. He has designed magazines and identities on Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, dairy and beef cows, pigs, and now chickens. Actually, this is the second time that Stout has developed a new look and feel for a fast-food chicken restaurant. Last year he and his team in Austin overhauled the Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits identity. That was then, but this is Chicken Now.
Chicken Now is a fast food chain that is located exclusively in the food courts of shopping malls. Unlike Popeye’s, which offers spicy, but traditional, “bone-in” fried chicken, Chicken Now only serves chicken tenders, both fried and grilled. A relative newcomer to the fast-food chicken game, Chicken Now is positioning itself to go head-to-head with the wildly successful food court darling Chic-fil-A.
The mall crowd tends to skew young so the new Chicken Now identity needed to appeal to fickle teenagers and college kids without alienating the older mall shopper. “We were inspired by skateboarding and surfing iconography,” says Stout, “and the kind of simple fun graphics that you see in contemporary Japanese youth culture and anime.”
The identity system also needed to communicate Chicken Now’s talking points: always fresh, 100% all white-meat chicken tenders, marinated in-house, trans-fat free, using local produce and made to order. “These competitive advantages were getting completely lost on the consumer,” says Stout, “so we created a simple typographic solution—basically big words, in a very readable Roman font, spread all over the walls of the small restaurant spaces.” The use of the literary looking type face and a cleaner, toned-down menu board and interior decor is surprisingly effective in food courts, which are primarily dominated by loud and aggressive graphics. It communicates a smarter choice.