TGI Friday’s USA redesign – A brand back in growth

Hot on the heels of the successful revitalisation of T.G.I. Friday’s in the UK, Harrison headed across the Atlantic to help energise the iconic brand in the USA, the country where it was first launched over fifty years ago.

The Challenge

In 2012, T.G.I. Friday’s knew it was time to bring their US restaurants up-to-date when their customers and franchisees started to tell them that the brand was losing its relevance.  As Nick Shepherd, the organisation’s Chief Executive at the time, said: “It was quirky in the 70s, quaint in the 80s, outdated in the 90s and had grown past its sell-by-date in the 2000s”.

The brief was to rebrand and redesign the T.G.I. Friday’s American restaurants without losing touch with the core values that had made them successful.

The Solution


The solution took the form of an international design strategy, which Harrison spent three years working on with the T.G.I. Friday’s parent company, Carlson Restaurants.  The resulting global design plan was then rolled out to both new and existing sites across the US.

A key element of ensuring that this plan would work was our four stage process:

1)    We engaged with the brand, the guests and operators to really understand where the brand had come from and what the barriers to growth were.

2)    We devised a range of initiatives to bring the brand up-to-date.  These were tested with guests and operators across various market segments.

3)    We designed brand concepts with the T.G.I. Friday’s management team, then carried out on-site trials.

4)    We developed a comprehensive design criteria guide – a workable ‘brand bible’ – which explains the reasoning behind the brand refresh and how its elements should be executed in refurbishments and new builds.

The Success

Our work had a major impact on T.G.I. Friday’s revenue right from the start:  the first remodelled restaurant, in Nashville, Tennessee, experienced a phenomenal 30% growth in sales.   Customers loved the new “open” kitchen, the more accessible bar and the less stark transition between eating and drinking.  T.G.I. Friday’s had discovered a new energy and vibrancy.

This success story has continued with the rollout of the rebrand across the rest of the USA and our input has been recognised right at the top of the organisation.

“It’s refreshing to work with people who have a deep knowledge of their market and know exactly what their clients’ customers want. The design inspiration has energized our re-image efforts in the US and we value our continued relationship with Harrison whose international strategic vision and desire to go the extra mile add real value to the Friday’s brand.”
— Ricky Richardson, President & Chief Operating Officer, Friday’s USA