Buffalo Wild Wings redesigns restaurants

As it enters its 30th year, Buffalo Wild Wings is refreshing its look, restaurants and its commitment to the guest experience. After more than a year of extensive research identifying the needs and preferences of its guests, the company has unveiled a new logo and interior design to enhance both the customer and operational experience.

“As our brand has evolved over the past 30 years to meet the needs of our guests and 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.”

The company, which started on college campuses, studied the its broadening demographics to determine how best to enhance the guest experience. Buffalo Wild Wings worked with the Columbus, Ohio-based 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.

“We understand that sports is inherently a social experience,” said Kathy Benning, executive vice president of global marketing and brand development. “Capturing that essence really drove all of the changes and improvements, which our guests will start to see this year. In addition to designing the perfect gathering place to share in the excitement of the game, we’re showcasing our signature sauces and wide selection of beers.”

Logo and interior makeover

The first change launching this week is the update of the company’s well-known buffalo 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.

“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.

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. “We looked at every aspect of the guest experience and we’ve refined the look and feel of our restaurant to create an atmosphere that feels more like being in a stadium,” Benning said. The new facility design will be officially unveiled later this year.

The new design keeps the game as the focal point. It captures the energy of a sports stadium and brings together the essentials needed to create a social and interactive local gathering place for true sports fans. Additionally, an enhanced audio-visual system has been designed to increase the game-day viewing experience.

In addition to sports, the new design puts more focus on both beer and wing sales – bringing beer front and center and showcasing Buffalo Wild Wings 20 signature sauces and seasonings.

“Our commitment to our guests is that our beer is always cold and our wings are hot and fresh,” Smith said. “We’ve made changes to the heart of house and our bar area that will make us operationally more effective, which means faster service, hotter wings and colder beer.”

The new design will be unveiled in late 2012 at two locations in the United States. Cincinnati will be its first location and was chosen as a legacy market because the company’s roots are in Ohio. The second redesigned facility will be in San Diego, Calif. – one of the company’s fastest-growing markets. Most of the new Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants opening in 2013, as well as many of the remodels, will feature the latest design.

“As we continue to evolve as a brand, we will stay true to the core elements of our success and we celebrate our rich heritage, which began in Columbus, Ohio,” Smith said. “As we have expanded to almost 840 locations, we have been embraced in new communities across North America – and soon across the globe.”

Read more about restaurant design strategies.

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