Two families saw an opportunity to bring better chicken rotisserie to an underserved market. With a focus on bringing new, worldly flavors to a typically basic cuisine, Smokin Chikin only had to pull together their identity and experience to seal the deal.
Smokin Chikin’s key challenges involved crafting an experience tailored to the primary market that was comprised of the military family. With a large base close by, the need to develop a brand that was approachable, affordable, and memorable would be the key to success. In addition, the team sought to overcome these challenges:
The average military family in Clarksville had few options for dining out on a budget. With many troops deployed, the family needed not only sustenance, but also an escape. Options were important because a standard chicken offering was available down the road with a large, trusted chain. Smokin Chikin had to create a menu that was explorative, while maintaining basic options to keep things approachable. The brand had to look legitimate and trustworthy out of the gate to compete against the larger brands successfully. Families had money to spend, but they were notoriously frugal and calculated with where they spend it.
Our research and in depth analysis guided our focus on creating a warm, approachable brand identity. This was accomplished with a warm color palette, classic typography, and organic graphic treatments in the logo. Those core features fed the design of supporting accoutrements throughout the interiors, signage, and marketing.
A key graphic served as the brand’s mark that leveraged a mnemonic device representing a chicken that is literally smoking. Subliminally we worked an “S” and “C” letterform into the mark as an opportunity to leverage wit within the design.
Smokin Chikin’s interior design drew inspiration from the nostalgic imagery of heritage farms. The goal was to make sure we didn’t cross the line into campy or goofy. Instead we wanted to craft a contemporary experience that would bridge the gap between the style of home decor and design and farmhouse chic.
The gap was bridged by using common elements between the two: wood siding, raw stone, and rich colors. Classic illustrations and woodcut type treatments were made into custom wallpaper stripes to breakup the wood siding, and the Vigor team custom-designed chicken-coop inspired lighting fixtures as the centerpiece leading up to the hero moment of the point of sale. Smokin Chikin’s point of sale was made purposely heroic with beautiful stone construction, and a focal point of the fire infused rotisserie.
The resulting interiors were truly unique and memorable. Furthermore, there are key elements that can be toolkited to replicate the experience from location to location.
The restaurant received rapid attention from foodies, media and the public. Within the first year, it was voted the best restaurant by regional magazines. Within three years, the entire concept was sold at a profit to a restauranteur who changed the name. For years the mention of Jackie Blue to Harrisburg locals immediately evokes talk of the logo, the food and the experience.