KFC’s Unique Brand Extension: a Fire Log

"KFC brand extension into a fire log"

Kentucky Fried Chicken a/k/a KFC took its brand to a whole new level with the KFC fire log. Now, you can have the smell of KFC’s fried chicken not just at dinner time, but all day long. At least you could have had that smell if you were lucky enough to get your hands on one. Apparently, the KFC fire log sold out in hours.

KFC’s decision to launch a fire log under its well-known KFC brand is a bold, but helpful brand extension. It is helpful because brand extensions increase the strength of the mark. The more opportunities consumers have to encounter a mark, the more likely they are to associate the mark with a single source.

It is also a common misconception that a trademark must be used at all times otherwise the trademark rights are abandoned. A trademark must be continuously used, but that use needs to be consistent with the nature of the goods or services being offered for sale. In this case, KFC is offering the logs for a limited time. So long as KFC repeats this activity in 2019, it will be able to maintain its trademarks rights for KFC in a fire log.

Another good example of this are businesses at county or state fairs. There are several businesses that exist solely to sell their goods for a limited time during a state or county fair. But they do this every year and don’t lose their trademark rights when the fair closes for the year.

What is also interesting about the article is KFC’s statement that “[t]he smell of the Colonel’s Original Recipe fried chicken is unmistakable.” This statement suggests a non-traditional trademark in the form of a smell. The definition of a trademark in the Trademark Act is extremely. It says that anything can function as a trademark provided it is capable of distinguishing and indicating the source of goods or services. If the smell of the Colonel’s fried chicken is unmistakable, then pursuing non-traditional trademark protection may be worth considering. These types of trademarks generally require more effort to protect, but they are a great addition to any trademark portfolio.

Quaker Oats Brand Extensions Will Soon Include Milk

"Quaker Oats brand extensions to include oat milk"

The Quaker Oat Company started its business by producing oats. However, the company has engaged in several brand extensions since its founding. Today, the QUAKER mark is used in connection with 80 different hot cereals, 28 different cold cereals, 37 different grain-based snacks, 22 different rice-based snacks, 22 other grain-based products.  That is a total of 189 different products.

When 2019 rolls around, The Quaker Oat Company will add product number 190 when QUAKER oat milk becomes available, and why not. Milk has been made of almost every type of nut, so its time to start making milk out of grains. And as long as the alt-milk trend continues, we’re sure to see other brand extensions into the milk category.

What is interesting is to examine the brand extensions The Quaker Oat Company has executed. With the exception of a few products like the REAL MEDLEY line, the only brands used are the QUAKER term and Logo. With respect to the Logo, most of the packaging uses the modern version of the Quaker image, but some packaging deliberately uses older versions of this logo. This is a strategic decision by the company to avoid even the potential argument that any prior rights in the logo have been abandoned. It’s a smart move if a company can pull it off as part of the overall brand strategy.

It is an interesting decision to use descriptive words only on the brand extensions and not name the product or product line. From a trademark strength perspective, extending the QUAKER mark and Logo increases strength. The more opportunity prospective purchasers have to interact with a trademark, theoretically, the stronger their association with the brand becomes. But consumers can and often do rely on more than one mark to identify the source of goods or services. You don’t have to look further than an infant who can recognize company logos before they can read.