CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- From Bob Evans to Chili's to JC Penney, companies are refreshing their image across the Kanawha Valley.
Companies undergo refresh campaigns for many reasons, but it's important to balance the old and new, marketing professionals say.
"You've got to maintain the brand equity that has been built up over the years," said Linda Arnold, chairwoman and CEO of The Arnold Agency, a Charleston-based marketing agency with offices in West Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Montana. "A brand is really a promise. It's a relationship with the consumer."
Customers at regional Bob Evans restaurants may have noticed some big changes. The company launched the "Farm Fresh Refresh" restaurant revitalization program in an effort to update its facilities, modernize the brand and stay relevant with a changing demographic.
The project includes a complete redesign of the inside and outside of restaurants many customers associate with farm-friendly, country cooking.
The company started the refreshing project in Ohio where the Bob Evans farm is located and branched outward to other markets.
So far, 440 of the chain's restaurants, or 78 percent, have been refreshed at the end of the second quarter, according to Bob Evans' corporate communications.
Thirty Bob Evans restaurants in West Virginia will be remodeled as part of the program. Eight have not been updated yet. They anticipate all remodels will be completed by April 30.
"It's always tempting to want to refresh and go after other target audiences and at the same time to not have erosion of that traditional customer base," Arnold said. "And that can be tricky."
Arnold said companies and consumers have seen successes and failures recently with refresh campaigns.
Dr Pepper and Radio Shack are some examples, Arnold said.
"Dr Pepper was trying to appeal to men [with its Dr Pepper Ten campaign], but then they alienated women," Arnold said. The ad for Dr Pepper's 10-calorie soft drink boasted it's "not for women."
Radio Shack tried to be known simply as "The Shack," but that image and message did not resonate well with consumers.
"It's just an effort to go after that one target audience and appeal to it. And in doing so, they lost this a different consumer group," Arnold said. "Any time that you attempt to influence or change the brand, you have to take a lot of things into consideration."
Consumers appear to be responding well to Bob Evans' project. The new bakery, farm-fresh to-go meals, modern furnishings and fixes, brighter color schemes are not going unnoticed.
"Guests are very impressed with the updates and appreciate the investment we've made to modernize our restaurants while retaining the welcoming family atmosphere expected at Bob Evans," said Margaret Standing, senior director of corporate communications.