Inside Krystal’s Complete Brand Refresh

Krystal Food items

Krystal has big plans for aggressive expansion, and wants to bring along new, hungry franchisees.

With a deep history going back 90 years, Krystal is an enduring brand. Its legions of dedicated fans have made it a household name throughout the Southeast U.S. Still, when Casey Terrell joined the team in August 2022 and became Krystal Restaurants’ chief marketing officer, he saw a unique opportunity to revitalize a brand and introduce it to a new generation.

“If you’re a franchisee, this is a great time to join our brand—we’re seeing really exciting growth,” Terrell says. “As a brand, we’re targeting a younger consumer who’s a little bit more culturally aware. With our celebrity partnerships, we want to show the franchisee community that we’re alive and we have a lot of plans.”  

Terrell has sought out partnerships with celebrities whose personal brands align with his goals for Krystal’s new ethos. For example, Krystal recently named multi-platinum rapper 2 Chainz as the new head of creative marketing, and he is slated to open several locations of his own in the Atlanta area. The brand also announced that Lenard “Charlamagne Tha God” McKelvey and football legend Victor Cruz signed franchise agreements—each with deals to personalize their stores’ designs to reflect their signature style.

“The brand needed some different attention, so we’re really moving into a ‘maverick outlaw’ archetype with a strong brand personality,” Terrell says. “Without alienating our current fans, we want to be more culturally relevant with the right partners.”

Not only is Krystal repositioning its brand—it’s also rethinking its classic footprint. The traditional Krystal location is about 2,700 square feet, but the brand has created several smaller prototypes with streamlined kitchens to accommodate a wider variety of potential locations. In a time when building costs are inflated and timelines seem to get longer and longer as well, Krystal has created these smaller prototypes specifically to attract their ideal franchisees—experienced multi-unit operators who understand how to get cash flow started and reach profitability quickly.

“We are willing to re-franchise territories or certain markets of corporate stores, and we’re interested in development agreements to buy some stores and to build some stores as well,” says Melissa Hodge, senior director of franchise at Krystal Restaurants. “We are aggressively growing.” 

New franchisees are supported every step of the way with hands-on, one-on-one training, tech-savvy marketing, and franchise business managers offering expert support. Franchisees also have a committee called the Krystal Council that advises on corporate decisions. “We really listen to our franchisees, and their feedback is in our plans—if they’re happy, we’re happy,” Terrell says.

Right now, Krystal only exists in the Southeast and Puerto Rico, but its goal is to rapidly become a national brand. “This is a brand where a large operator who operates in multiple states can come in and have the white space they’re looking for—territories are still available and there’s room to grow,” Hodge says. “Our smaller prototype building and our flexible footprint (c-store, travel plaza, end-cap drive thru, smaller trade areas, smaller sites) is going to be one of the more inexpensive opportunities available to hungry franchisees looking for a legacy brand with outstanding growth opportunity.”

*Source: QSR Magazine: Link to full article here

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