Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc., founded in 1982 and headquartered in Minneapolis, is the operator and franchisor of Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants focusing on Buffalo, New York-style chicken wings, sports and beer. There are currently more than 835 Buffalo Wild Wings locations across 48 states in the United States, as well as in Canada. As it enters its 30th anniversary, Buffalo Wild Wings is rebranding its look, restaurants and overall experience. The restaurant – with roots spawning from college campuses – has become a prime destination for sports and wings fans over the years. The company says that while the core of what has made the restaurants successful will remain the same, fans of wings, beer and sports will see some noticeable positive changes in the coming months.
“As our brand has evolved over the past 30 years to meet the needs of our Guests and to stay modern, fresh and relevant, we continually strive to bring that game day energy to life in our restaurants,” said Sally Smith, CEO and president of Buffalo Wild Wings. “This year our Guests will begin to see the evolution of our brand in new and exciting ways.”
- Image: Branding Source
After more than a year of extensive research identifying the needs and preferences of its Guests, studying the company’s broadening demographics and determining how best to enhance the Guest experience, Buffalo Wild Wings worked with the Columbus studio of global design consultancy, FITCH, to look closely at everything from its logo and restaurant design to the audio-visual experience and operational efficiencies. From that research came the strategies to build upon the cornerstones of what has made the brand so successful: wings, beer and sports.
FITCH doesn’t seem to have any BWW information on their portfolio but I did find a great interview with Christian Davies, Executive Creative Director of FITCH Americas about the project via Akron Legal News. Here are some of the things Davies had to say: “They wanted to know ‘How can we take it to the next level?’ It’s going to be even more ‘B-Dubs’ than ‘B-Dubs’ is today. They wanted to turbo charge it, take it up a level,” said Christian Davies, executive creative director, Americas, for FITCH, referring to the restaurant’s nickname.
From its humble High Street beginnings the chain has grown to more than 820 restaurants, but Davies said the company didn’t want to rest on its laurels. “One of the first things we did was ask them, ‘Why do you want to do this?’ They said they wanted to maintain differentiation,” he said. Indeed, Buffalo Wild Wings, which is headquartered in Minneapolis, has a lot of competition nowadays and company officials said they wanted to continue to find ways to stand out from the rest of the pack, said Davies.
The process started with a meeting among FITCH and Buffalo Wild Wings representatives that took more than four hours. “They said to us, ‘We’d like you to come in and take the pulse of our restaurants,’” said Davies. The next step was to collect customer feedback, and not just from forms and surveys. FITCH representatives actually spent several nights visiting Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants with groups of its regular customers. “We ate a lot of wings,” said Davies. “What we were trying to get to was to take the pulse of the feeling around the brand.”
The first noticeable change is the update to the logo. While still recognizable with its distinctive winged buffalo framed in yellow and black, the new Buffalo Wild Wings logo reflects the company’s vision of the brand and its broadening fan base. The strong, bold, contemporary and sporty feel highlights the competitive spirit that thrives at Buffalo Wild Wings. The updated buffalo looks more organic and flowing. The only thing I don’t quite understand is the stroke that they decided to put on the belly, it feels unnecessary.
“As we prepare for further international expansion, this change allows the Buffalo Wild Wings logo to more easily represent our brand abroad and be slightly modified for local cultures,” Benning said. “The changes give us more flexibility in the use of the logo, and it appeals to our wide and growing audience – including women – while maintaining a sporty masculinity.”
Specifically, the new buffalo is more muscular and athletic. It has enlarged wings, narrowed eyes and upward-turned horns – giving it a more powerful look. With more dimension and detail, the buffalo logo now has more flexibility and can live on its own. Additionally, the words “Grill & Bar” have been removed from the logo to reflect that Buffalo Wild Wings is much more than a grill and bar. It has become a gathering place and neighborhood destination for sports fans.
- Image: Branding Source
The bold Buffalo Wild Wings name in the logo is now crisp and clean in a sporty font unique to the company. The custom typeface has the look and feel of a sports team or stadium signage and it can live vertically or horizontally – giving it flexibility for a variety of platforms including signage, packaging, marketing and in-restaurant branding.
While the logo will be the first Guest-facing change, coming soon will be bold changes to the design of the restaurants