The fast-food seafood company setup a mock-version of what the new store design at its conference earlier this week. | Courtesy of Long John Silver's

The fast-food seafood company set up a mock-version of what the new store design at its conference earlier this week. | Courtesy of Long John Silver’s

Long John Silver’s isn’t just swabbing the deck; it’s trying to rebuild the ship by introducing a whole new branding for the fast-food seafood chain.

The Louisville-based company held its national convention this week at the Louisville Marriott Downtown where it debuted new uniforms and a small-scale prototype of its new store design. IL previously reported that Long John Silver’s was redesigning its restaurants but no images were available at the time.

“We want everything to reflect the company we are today,” said Marilyn Nicholson, vice president of marketing, media and promotions, adding that Long John Silver’s is nearing its 50th anniversary year. “We know we want to be here for another 50 years.”

In 2017, Long John Silver’s plans to open a couple test restaurants with the new design, which will include equipment upgrades, and begin renovating some existing stores. One of the first locations featuring the new design will open during the first quarter of next year in Louisville.

The new look features up-to-date wood tables and chairs; a variety of seating including high tops; photos from fishing boats hanging on the wall; a compass design; and a color scheme focusing more on natural blues. It gives Long John Silver’s a more contemporary look that reflects three elements of the brand — sustainability, quality and family, Nicholson said.

The restaurants will start to meld with the new advertising campaign.

Actor Kennisha Thompson, who is features in Long John Silver's commercials, modeled the new manager's uniform. | Courtesy of Long John Silver's

Actor Kennisha Thompson, who is featured in Long John Silver’s commercials, modeled the new manager’s uniform. | Courtesy of Long John Silver’s

Cincinnati-based branding firm Marsh redesigned Long John Silver’s logo and stores in addition to handling Long John Silver’s marketing campaigns, which have been pushing the message of fresh ingredients such as its “wild-caught 100 percent Alaskan whitefish” and “hand-cut fries.” Commercials show Alaskan fishing boats and talk about sustainability and appreciating the outdoors and the food the sea provides.

Franchisees will not be required to upgrade their existing stores to the new look, but Nicholson said there was a lot of excitement around the redesign at the convention. “It became the central gathering place for people.”

Long John Silver’s will be offering a variety of upgrade packages, with at least one as low as $10,000, she said. The cost will depend on how big of an overhaul the franchisee wants, the market, the store’s sales volume and its asset base.

All franchisees will, however, be required to adopt the new employee uniform by the start of Lent, Long John Silver’s busiest time of year.

“The best expression of our brand is those people on the frontline,” Nicholson said.

Before, employees were required to wear button-up shirts with black slacks, which “had this very cafeteria-style uniform” feel, she said. The new uniform is “fun and high-energy.”

Associates will receive hats with the new logo and a comfortable black shirt with Long John Silver’s new logo. They also will be able to wear dark denim jeans and tennis shoes. Managers meanwhile will sport new dark grey polos and jeans.

The new uniforms are still “crisp,” Nicholson said, but also more relaxed and more affordable, which fits better into today’s world. The company also has introduced less stringent policies about tattoos and beards.

Long John Silver’s executives expect that relaxing its uniform restrictions will help on the in-store level, Nicholson said.

“When employees are comfortable and confident, they are more highly engaged with customers. They are more confident. They look good.”