-Tom Kelley and Rick Wolf
We hear story after story about operators trying to reinvent themselves or wondering
why they have lost market share. Often times they are so close to the root challenge
that they overlook it and try to advertise or promote their way out of slumping sales. A
better approach: look deep to examine and refine your true brand essence and never
loose sight of the essential emotional connection your brand must make to each guest or
Over the years we have accepted the challenge of assessing and developing strategies
to both launch and expand market share for operators and suppliers alike. There's
always been a common thread: be true to what made your brand great and never loose
sight of what makes you, your product and your service authentic and unique.
Often times, when business goes south, the immediate reaction is either to slash
proactive marketing expenditures or to try to advertise to regain market share. Neither
works. What does work is having all principals and operations folks look back to what
drove business when expansion was taking place. What products built the company?
What did the brand stand for? What made guests and customers come back?
With increased competition comes a desire or tendency to "act like the Jones's," rather
than keeping the focus on a unique and authentic brand story. Long-term success, we
have found and suggest, is found in remaining steadfast in delivery of a product that is
beyond anyone's duplication.
Good operators will realize the need, every couple of years,
to take an objective and impartial view of what message their brand is sending -
both by operational execution as well as through visual merchandizing in the restaurant.
Our advice to operators in today's ultra-competitive environment: examine and refine
your core brand. You may too close to daily operations to see how your original focus
has morphed into something that is truly "not you."
Don't be afraid to call in some experts help to look at all that you are doing, internally and externally, to see if you are
truly showcasing your authentic core message. Whatever you do, don't wait until it's
too late or spend thousands on unfocused advertising dollars.
When you stand back and get assistance in taking a hard look at what truly put you on
the map to begin with, you'll realize that same core brand message and product can take
you to new heights as well. Just realize that as you examine your brand and your
operations, you need to always seek to build emotional connections with your guests.
Great brands aren't reinvented, just are continually improved and reinforced. When's
the last time you really took a hard look at how true your operations are to your brand
promise? Now would be a good time!
Tom Kelley and Rick Wolf are Partners of Concept Group USA
(www.conceptgroupusa.com), a strategic brand consulting firm based in
Washington, DC and New England. The firm has over 120 years experience
examining, refining and expanding brands primarily in the hospitality, retail and trade association