Chipotle. A steady ship in stormy waters.

March 26, 2015 / Branding, Hospitality/Tourism
Chipotle

Unlike competitors in the fast food category, Chipotle does not share sales data with its ad agencies. According to CMO, Mark Crumpacker, focusing on short-term gains leads marketers to lose sight of “the big” picture, namely how to build a distinctive brand.

“We don’t manage our business quarter to quarter,” says Crumpacker. “We manage it for the long run.”

As branding experts, we applaud Chipotle’s decision. Your brand’s value proposition — and the way it’s communicated — shouldn’t vary depending on the latest sales trends. Otherwise, you’re allowing your competitors (and the market) to decide who you are.

Maybe one reason Chipotle is gaining marketing share from McDonald’s is that the fast food Mexican chain knows what its brand is all about, while the Golden Arches keeps trying to reinvent itself and be all things to all people.

Brand building is not reactive. Never is, never will be.

Photo:  Mike Mozart (Creative Commons)


McDonald's. Far from lovin’ it.

September 17, 2014 / Branding, Hospitality/Tourism
McDonald's food advertising campaign

Apparently the departure of McDonald’s U.S. Creative Chief Marlena Peleo-Lazar—the person behind the “I’m lovin’ it” branding effort—is indicative of deeper problems at the company.

In August, the fast-food giant posted its weakest monthly sales results in more than a decade, with global same-store sales falling 3.7%. In the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region, sales at existing locations slid 14.5% last month.

According to analysts like Howard Penney of Hedgeye, a lot of factors have contributed to McDonald’s woes. Consumers’ eating habits have changed. Fast-casual chains like Chipotle are gaining ground. And despite the chain’s best efforts to stay relevant to millennials, that demographic is “far from loving it.”

A key problem: In an effort to be all things to all people, McDonald’s has bloated its menu so much that it has slowed operations significantly.

Can the fast food company walk away from its core value proposition to adapt to changing tastes? Or should it remain true to what it has always been?

McDonald’s has to answer that question first and foremost, before it undertakes any major new marketing initiative.

Photo: James (Creative Commons)

 

 


McDonald’s. Far from lovin’ it.

September 17, 2014 / Branding, Hospitality/Tourism
McDonald's food advertising campaign

Apparently the departure of McDonald’s U.S. Creative Chief Marlena Peleo-Lazar—the person behind the “I’m lovin’ it” branding effort—is indicative of deeper problems at the company.

In August, the fast-food giant posted its weakest monthly sales results in more than a decade, with global same-store sales falling 3.7%. In the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region, sales at existing locations slid 14.5% last month.

According to analysts like Howard Penney of Hedgeye, a lot of factors have contributed to McDonald’s woes. Consumers’ eating habits have changed. Fast-casual chains like Chipotle are gaining ground. And despite the chain’s best efforts to stay relevant to millennials, that demographic is “far from loving it.”

A key problem: In an effort to be all things to all people, McDonald’s has bloated its menu so much that it has slowed operations significantly.

Can the fast food company walk away from its core value proposition to adapt to changing tastes? Or should it remain true to what it has always been?

McDonald’s has to answer that question first and foremost, before it undertakes any major new marketing initiative.

Photo: James (Creative Commons)

 

 


Southwest gets to the heart of rebranding.

September 10, 2014 / Branding, Hospitality/Tourism
Southwest heart rebranding

On Monday Southwest Airlines unveiled a comprehensive rebranding, including a new aircraft livery named Heart One, a new logo, newly designed inflight materials and magazine, an advertising campaign that celebrates the airline’s unique personality, and a revamped customer experience both online and at its airport locations.

It’s been a big year for the airline. The company added lots of international destinations, acquired AirTran, and expanded its footprint to include more than 90 cities, including New York City and Washington, D.C.

“With all these exciting changes happening, we thought it was time for a new visual expression of our brand—one that marries our past to our present and sets the course for where we’re headed in the future,” says Gary Kelly, the company’s CEO.

But we think there’s a more fundamental reason behind the rebranding. Due to recent competition from other domestic carriers, Southwest Airlines is no longer the low cost leader among U.S. airlines and has received some media criticism for that. In an effort to shift the focus to an area where the airline still shines, the company’s new branding uses heart iconography and centers on the theme “Without a heart, it’s just a machine.” This plays on the company’s legacy of customer service — showcasing an airline that has always put people first.

This is a smart strategy, to be sure (though we preferred the airline’s former scrappy, “fares for peanuts” persona). Regardless of what you think of the new branding, it’s interesting to see how the airline has positioned it as being all about the customer experience. “We are the heart airline,” explains Kelly, “the airline that makes an emotional connection with our passengers and employees.”

With this rebranding initiative, Southwest Airlines has done one important thing right: They’ve capitalized on the new look as an opportunity to improve their relationship with customers and prospects. And that’s at the heart of what rebranding is all about.

Thinking of rebranding your company? Let’s talk.

Photo:  Ruycesar (Creative Commons)


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