Spinach Branding helps take Thunderbird Fried Chicken nationwide
It is hard not to take note of the universal popularity of chicken eateries. There are, of course, the big chains – Nando’s, Chicken Cottage, and the architect of it all, KFC. Yet, running parallel is a host of much more exciting, innovative brands exploring the possibilities of the humble poulet. In much the same way the burger revolution saw the simple meat-in-a-bun elevate to gastronomic stardom, right now chicken is enjoying its historical moment.
Spinach Branding has a great deal of experience working in the hospitality industry and in particular with brands involved with food and drink. For the last twenty years, our London-based studio has helped international names – from established restaurants to start-ups – refine their brands. And this is how we came to be involved with Thunderbird Fried Chicken – a challenger brand with an unusual story.
Thunderbird’s life began in the late noughties when Matt Harris, a former NASCAR racing driver, came up with the concept in the back of an eBay-bought American ambulance. Having eaten his way around racetracks and diners across the US, Matt made it his mission to bring the authentic American style fried chicken to the UK. He transformed his ambulance into the BBQ Lab where he describes his early adventures as ‘American soul food gone turbo’. Soon his recipe for chicken wings gained popularity at Kerb and Street Feast, winning the 2015 Wing Fest competition for the best wings in London. Matt opened four Thunderbird Fried Chicken restaurants in prime locations across London in 2019, and this is when our studio stepped in.
The restaurants were doing really well, and the time was right to take the Thunderbird vision to its next level and expand nationwide. The project is being backed by the private equity firm and F&B specialist investment company TriSpan and an expert team to include the founder of Tortilla Brandon Stephens, and with Marcel Khan, who spearheaded Five Guys’ entry into Europe, as chief executive.
Spinach was brought on-board to help refine the brand’s unique proposition and create a brand identity that will succeed on a national scale. Ground-level experience and extensive research revealed a big consumer appetite for a new challenger brand to shake up the fried chicken status quo. Our studio’s role was to interpret the market analysis and customer insight, then turn it into a unique, immediately recognisable and highly memorable high street food retail brand. Working closely with the Thunderbird team, we collectively defined the brand proposition and strategic brand platform.
What we discovered early on is that the very core of everything is Matt’s incredible recipe making – that Thunderbird’s unique story and his scientific approach to menu development is what sets the brand apart. With this in mind, we created a unique messaging platform that brings to life Thunderbird’s maverick personality and articulates one simple brand promise: the joy of chicken – mindfully sourced, expertly crafted, absolutely joyous to eat. We went as far as to invent a new language for Thunderbird to include words such as ‘mattodology’, ‘maverick chicken’, ‘100% frientific’.
Then, to bring the visual identity up to speed, allude to the Thunderbird brand energy and the bolt of pleasure experienced from tasting the sublime and delicious chicken dishes, Spinach developed a lightning-styled typography – aka boltography. We chose a colourway that would help the brand stand out on the high street and create a visual point of difference to other established food retail brands.
‘Spinach really helped us distil and define our brand in a truly meaningful and powerful way,’ offers CEO Marcel Khan, who previously worked with Planet Hollywood, Belgo Group, Loch Fyne, and Nando’s. ‘They profoundly understand the difference between logos, aesthetics, messaging, merchandising, and brand DNA. And they’re bloody good at all of it,’ he says. ‘Leigh, Adam (founding partners of Spinach) and their super talented team worked relentlessly at digging into the core of our brand before designing the actual brand architecture. This provided us with not just amazing brand articulation but a foundation to work from that will serve us well into the future. I can’t recommend Spinach highly enough. All that and they’re top people. What’s not to love?’
Spinach Branding is a specialist branding agency based in London. We work with established businesses and start-ups around the world to build and refine their brands. See how we work and get in touch to discuss your brand.< Back