Posts in category PR and promotion

BrandingCustomer experienceExpert interviewsMarketing plansPR and promotionSocial mediaTrends

Cheesy yellow pants + red hot news = formula for brand lift

Just after McDonald’s reported a 5% drop in first-quarter net income, they announced an image update of their iconic brand mascot, Ronald McDonald.
I’m guessing this means the clothes are no longer Dry Clean Only.

Ronny’s been around since the early 1960’s when Willard Scott first sported the clown get up. Since then, his image has transformed throughout the years, along with his responsibilities that have expanded to include Chief Happiness Officer of the all-American restaurant.

The update took two years to complete and was the fine fashion work of famed costume designer Ann Hould-Ward, who won a Tony award for her costume design of the Disney play Beauty and the Beast.

I’m not knocking McDonald’s work. Keeping a brand relevant is critical. Although I might have suggested pushing the yellow and red envelope a bit more by having him sport a small burger tattoo and maybe wearing Spanx® instead of cargo pants.

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BrandingCustomer experienceMarketing plansPR and promotionSocial mediaTools, Apps, TechnologyTrends

3 ways to stand out in a crowded local market

You asked, we answered

We received a letter from a reader who asked

I run an Italian restaurant, and when we first opened we were one of three in the area with a fourth restaurant a few towns over. Today there are two more in town and another restaurant that’s opening that’s copying our format. We serve northern Italian food based on family recipes and that’s what they’re doing.

I know that our food is really good because I source the ingredients myself, I’m always in the kitchen and our reviews tell us so. I don’t have a problem with competition. However, I don’t want to get lumped in with these other Italian restaurants. We’re also facing competition from the chains who spend lots of money on marketing and branding. How do I stand out from the crowd? Thanks, Rob

Great question, Rob. When one concept works in a market, it seems that lots of people will go down that path then there are too many of the same options.

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BrandingCustomer experienceMarketing plansPR and promotionSocial mediaTrends

A local good deed evolves national food brand

This year I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to 5 regions of the Florida Chapter Club Managers Association of America (FLCMAA). The FLCMAA is a trade group made up of private clubs, most of which have food and beverage and hospitality programs. Last week, I addressed the Northern chapter in Jacksonville, FL where Sysco Foods was the host.

We all know Sysco, the big box restaurant food and supply distributor. After my presentation on branding, we went on a tour of the facility, which was very impressive.

What really struck me was how the company focuses on the internal culture that emphasizes the team and recognizes everyone’s contributions. Everywhere I looked there were signs highlighting employees and their important roles in delivering on Sysco’s brand promise.

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BrandingCustomer experienceMarketing plansPR and promotionRestaurant brand reviewsTrends

What happens in Vegas does not need to stay in Vegas.

I just got back from Sin City. I addressed the International Pizza Expo, an annual event dedicated to the passion and profits around pizza. The 4-day event was produced by Pizza Today the leading pizza industry magazine.

I always have a great time in Las Vegas, as it is a playground for marketers. In the picture below you will see some of my new friends from Mask US a brand costume mascot company. There’s so much to experience here and to stimulate every sense from entertainment, to dining on amazing food, to drinking great wine and vegging out at the spa. I worked hard. I spoke to hundreds of pizzapreneurs on the power of branding and I played hard, too.

The Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority launched that infamous tagline in 2003, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” with great success, but this week to help you grow your brand and business I’ll share what I saw in Vegas.

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BrandingCustomer experienceExpert interviewsMarketing plansPR and promotionTools, Apps, TechnologyTrends

Rethinking your restaurant’s brand strategy?

3 questions to ask first (and 3 easy makeover solutions)

Let me ask you a question.

When you hear the word “brand,” what do you think it means?

Marketing tactics?

Sure, these all play a part in branding.

But, in fact, branding is much more than just these items.

I like to say branding is what people think, feel and expect whenever they interact with your company.
Branding is an overarching image.

It’s ingrained in everything you do—your operations, your message, all your touch points and your marketing.

It’s the DNA of the company.

When a company is thinking of rebranding itself, it can feel quite overwhelming.

So before you dive deep into the world of rebranding, it’s important to ask three questions first to determine where your brand currently stands.

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BrandingCustomer experienceEmployee engagementExpert interviewsMarketing plansPR and promotionReader questionsRestaurant brand reviewsSocial mediaTools, Apps, TechnologyTrends

3 tips for handling a bad online restaurant review

You asked, we answered. This week’s blog post is an answer to a question submitted by one of our Restaurant Branding Roadmap readers.

“I know it is important to be on social media, but I am afraid to put ourselves out there. We had a bad experience with a nasty reviewer online and we didn’t know how to respond. I know that bad reviews and disgruntled customers can hurt a brand. How do you suggest dealing with bad reviews on a Facebook page or on a Twitter feed or on a site like Yelp? Also, how do you decide where to be on social media. There are so many options and we only have so much time? – Denise”

Great question, Denise. You are right, just like your restaurant might see an uptick in business from a consistent stream of great reviews, bad online reviews can hurt your brand and your business. In today’s marketplace, an online reputation is something that every business must monitor.

First, we’ll address your question about how to deal with bad restaurant reviews. If you’re monitoring your restaurant’s online reputation, or you have an alert system set up and you come across a bad review, here are some steps you can take.

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BrandingCustomer experienceMarketing plansPR and promotionRestaurant brand reviewsTrends

1st impression. Lasting imprint. 2 preventable brand mistakes.

A new boutique hotel property, the Epicurean Hotel just opened in Tampa. Expectations were high since the veteran restaurant team behind the iconic Bern’s Steak House created this new culinary and hospitality experience, too.
The press materials and marketing content tout the new property as personifying a passion for food and wine and include the tagline “accommodations for the senses.” (Sidebar from restaurant branding roadmap: of all 5 senses, vision is the strongest sense, so what consumers see dominates first impressions – anything visual is 90% of the impact.)

Comprised of 137 guest rooms, the hotel features the following: a restaurant and wine bar, retail wine shop, bakery, full service spa, health club, swimming pool with cabanas, an open-air special-events area, rooftop lounge and a demonstration kitchen which will be home to the Bern Laxer School of Food and Wine. The hotel will join Marriott’s Autograph Collection®, a portfolio of independent luxury hotels.

For months, buzz has been building in the local and national news about this new foodie-centric, dining and hotel spot.

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BrandingCustomer experienceMarketing plansPR and promotionReader questionsTrends

How brands stay consistent across locations

You asked, we answered. This week’s blog post is an answer to a question submitted by one of our Restaurant Branding Roadmap readers.

“I opened my restaurant five years ago and since then we’ve added two locations. I’m frustrated because the branding is not consistent across locations. The employees make menu changes, the service is not consistent and the overall environment is different from the original restaurant. I created the brand at the first location and I was there every day to make sure that the brand grew and was maintained. I try to do what I can at the newer locations, but I can’t be in three places at once. What can I do to keep the branding the same across the locations? Thanks. Kathy”

Great question, Kathy. First off, congratulations on your restaurant’s expansion. You are not alone with this restaurant marketing and branding challenge. This is an issue that many growing businesses struggle with. Many times, the founder of a business is the cornerstone of the branding and the one who nurtures it as it grows. They put in long hours everyday. They make sure that everything from the menu items, to services, to the customer experiences and all brand touch points are consistently on brand.

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BrandingCustomer experienceMarketing plansPR and promotionRestaurant brand reviewsSocial mediaTrends

Trees, trends and textures – Birchwood is a natural

Last week we shared how a restaurant in Costa Rica tapped into history as a platform for their brand.

This past weekend we journeyed to another historic gem in St. Petersburg, Florida, The Birchwood Inn (a boutique hotel). The Birch and Vine (an adjoining restaurant) and The Canopy (a rooftop lounge) all a part of a beautifully branded downtown destination.

It was well worth the visit and they delivered a wonderful dining and hospitality experience and kudos for a thoughtful brand that reflects the tradition and charm of the property, a contemporary hipness and a family–honored and inspired name.

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