How Arby's Turned Its Brand Around After Years With an Identity Crisis

CMO Rob Lynch got the chain back in the conversation

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Arby's brand president and marketing boss Rob Lynch realized shortly after joining the fast-food chain famous for those stacked-to-the-ceiling roast beef sandwiches that he had his work cut out for him. Standing at the counter of one of his restaurants one afternoon, Lynch recalls, he overheard a customer remark: "Arby's makes really big, meaty sandwiches—I wish they had a chicken sandwich." And yet right there on the menu board were four chicken sandwiches.

"We were hiding in plain sight," Lynch says of the 52-year-old, Atlanta-based company, which, after years of a brand identity crisis, a revolving door of ad agencies and slumping sales, has been busily remaking itself to appeal to a broader swath of consumers—notably younger ones, fast-food's core customers—while staying true to the founders' mission of offering fare that's unlike anything else out there.

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