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Four iconic brands that reinvented themselves

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To get KFC to align with millennial tastes, the quick-service restaurant looked at what originally worked for the company: turning every occasion into a chicken-selling holiday. Its new ads cheekily boast that National Kale Day and Mother's Day — which happens to be the best-selling day of the year for the company — are perfect times to buy KFC.

It also revamped its menu to include less messy items for millennials who want eat something on the go, and introduced smaller meals like "$5 Fill Up" boxes.

To keep from alienating its core customers, KFC drew inspiration from its classic ads. That included bringing back Colonel Sanders.

"You see a lot of brands change as their users change," Hochman said. "Not only do you lose the young consumer because you don't seem authentic but you lose your core audience as well."

The campaign seems to be working. Based on third-quarter earnings, KFC said its system sales increased 6 percent, driven by 3 percent unit growth and a 3 percent rise in same-store sales. Operating profit increased 3 percent as well.

Source: KFC