Editorial: No shame in KFC's real name

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Finally, a colonel of truth: KFC sells fried chicken. Yum Brands' decision to restore the Kentucky Fried Chicken name is smart and honest. The chain's franchise is selling buckets of fatty food that tastes good. So be it. So say it.

The brand revival, under way at 50 locations, reverses a move made in 1991 when the chain truncated the name and logo to KFC as part of a strategy to introduce more healthful fare. A press release announcing the initial logo explained KFC was "changing with the times."

It made sense then to diversify the menu. That still makes sense, particularly for a chain that sells lots of family meals and needs to offer something for family members who don't want traditional fried chicken. Kentucky Fried Chicken will continue to sell better-for-you fare such as roasted chicken and salads.

But the chain's jettisoning of a venerable name-and distancing from the word "fried"-was ill-conceived and damaging. It made a clear brand fuzzy. Worse, it implied there was something unmentionable about KFC`s former middle name. If KFC didn't have the pluck to stand up for fried chicken, who would?

KFC violated basic rules that ailing marketers often forget when a business and market is in flux. Marketers need to be what they are, be authentic, be real. If you sell a product, make it the best you can, be proud of it, and don't waffle (unless you work for Waffle House).

KFC's name change was bad enough. Its short-lived 2003 ad campaign positioning fried chicken as healthy food, a cynical ploy to deceive consumers, was worse.

But it's a new chapter for a born-again chicken seller reviving a brand old name. Kentucky Fried Chicken takes a risk in putting attention back on "fried" even as critics blame fatty fast food for Americans' obesity. That's a risk worth taking. Kentucky Fried Chicken is an iconic brand that can thrive if it makes a product as good as its name. Mainstay customers never stopped calling it by the full name. New customers can be drawn in by the promise of good fried chicken. The colonel has reason to smile.

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