McD’s new packaging.

January 9, 2016 / Branding
mcdonalds packaging design

McDonald’s has just rolled out new packaging. It’s simple and bold, with big type and vibrant shades of purple, orange and magenta that push the company’s color palette beyond the traditional red and gold.

It’s part of a comprehensive effort by new CEO Steve Easterbrook to transform the Golden Arches into a “modern, progressive burger company.” The company is also in the process of revamping its menu offerings and other aspects of the in-store experience.

McDonald's packaging design

The packaging re-design was a team effort by several designers who were handpicked from several of McDonald’s agencies worldwide—an unusual approach for such a high profile branding assignment.

Definitely more contemporary in its approach, the new cups and bags feature the Golden Arches prominently as well as the slogan “I’m lovin’ it.” The stated goal was to make every item a “billboard for the brand.”

Will the new packaging help reverse McDonald’s recent sales slide? Who knows? As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, packaging and the in-store experience definitely have an influence on how consumers perceive a brand.

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Have a packaging assignment you need to tackle? We’d love to help you.

 

Photo Credit: McDonald’s 2016


Brand name chefs in the Baltimore/D.C. area

July 21, 2014 / Branding, Hospitality/Tourism
baltimore dc branding restaurant

Wolfgang Puck. Emeril LaGasse. Bobby Flay. These are just a few of the gifted chefs that have earned celebrity status and cult followings. Whenever these master chefs open a restaurant (or launch a new business enterprise), it instantly becomes news. They are as comfortable in the spotlight as they are in the kitchen.

When chefs like these become iconic brands, their personae also become an integral part of what diners experience at their restaurants. Even when Wolfgang Puck isn’t actually present at Spago in Beverly Hills, the mere opportunity to eat there makes guests feel as though they were dining with him and basking in his celebrity status.

The Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area has produced two such brand name chefs who are building their own impressive culinary empires: Jose Andres and Bryan Voltaggio.

Born in Spain and a long-time resident of Washington D.C., Andres is known for acclaimed restaurants like Jaleo, Minibar and Zatinya in the D.C. area and Bazaar in Beverly Hills.

A native of Frederick, Maryland, Voltaggio apprenticed with world-renowned chef Charlie Palmer, and his star has been rising ever since. Now the executive chef of acclaimed area restaurants like Volt and Range, he has competed on Top Chef and Top Chef Masters and also earned distinction as a James Beard Foundation Award Finalist.

Beyond their culinary acclaim, both Andres and Voltaggio are humanitarians.

A passionate philanthropist, Voltaggio supports Share Our Strength (SOS) in the fight against childhood hunger. He has raised more than half a million dollars over the last five years to support innovative school breakfast programs, meals for achievement, and the national No Kid Hungry campaign.

In 2006, driven by the belief that “food can fix the world” Andres launched World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that uses food-based initiatives to combat hunger and poverty in undeveloped countries like Haiti.

Commitments like these add an important dimension to these chefs’ personal brands, and we believe it also enhances the experiences customers get when they dine at their restaurants.

If you’re in the food service or hospitality business, do you have a mission beyond just driving sales? Don’t neglect the “personal” in your brand. It adds a dimension that has become so vital in today’s skeptical world.

Photo:  Yosoynuts (Creative Commons)


Whatever happened to Howard Johnson’s (and differentiation)?

July 16, 2014 / Branding, Hospitality/Tourism
restaurant branding advertising

Frankfurters on grilled buns, fried clam strips and 28 flavors of what was arguably the best ice cream in America.

“At one time, Howard Johnson’s Restaurants — with their signature orange porcelain roofs, blue shutters and trademark weather vanes — were as ubiquitous” as the McDonald’s golden arches are today. The chain, which later became known as Ho Jo’s, peaked at more than 1,000 locations by the late 1970s.

Founded by a visionary marketer, Howard Deering Johnson, the restaurant chain formally began in 1925 with a drugstore soda fountain in Quincy, Massachusetts. By 1929, he had opened a second shop and then, during the Great Depression, he pioneered the idea of restaurant franchising. In 1965, the chain’s restaurant sales topped those of McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC combined.

By the mid-1950s, Howard Johnson’s had expanded into motor lodges throughout the U.S. and in 1985,
it opened the country’s first turnpike restaurant, on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. By the late 1980s, the company dominated the “eat-and-sleep business along the country’s highways.” But soon afterwards, Howard Johnson’ began a steady decline.

Marriott Corporation bought the chain and later sold it to the Wyndham Hotel Group, which now oversees the Howard Johnson’s brand, primarily in the lodging business.

So what happened? Why did one of America’s most iconic restaurant brands die off?

There are lots of reasons: poor management, cost-cutting, changing tastes, and a lack of enthusiasm within the organization after the death of its founder in the early 1970s. We think it’s also attributable to customer confusion. Was Howard Johnson’s in the 1980s first and foremost a restaurant brand or a motel brand? And do hungry guests really want to stay at the same place where they eat fried clams?

Competition no doubt killed Howard Johnson’s, as well — too many brands in an industry where so many hotels and restaurants lack any true differentiation.

Today Wyndham Hotel Group, the owner of Ho Jo’s, has more than 15 hotel brand properties — including Travel Lodge, Ramada, Days Inn and Microtel. Do these brands have any true differentiation other than what they charge for a room with two queen size beds?

And as far as restaurant brands goes, what’s the difference between an Applebee’s and a Ruby Tuesdays?

In this age of very little differentiation in the hospitality business, a unique experience like Howard Johnson’s is sorely missed.

Photo: Ryan Bayne (Creative Commons)


Whatever happened to Howard Johnson's (and differentiation)?

July 16, 2014 / Branding, Hospitality/Tourism
restaurant branding advertising

Frankfurters on grilled buns, fried clam strips and 28 flavors of what was arguably the best ice cream in America.

“At one time, Howard Johnson’s Restaurants — with their signature orange porcelain roofs, blue shutters and trademark weather vanes — were as ubiquitous” as the McDonald’s golden arches are today. The chain, which later became known as Ho Jo’s, peaked at more than 1,000 locations by the late 1970s.

Founded by a visionary marketer, Howard Deering Johnson, the restaurant chain formally began in 1925 with a drugstore soda fountain in Quincy, Massachusetts. By 1929, he had opened a second shop and then, during the Great Depression, he pioneered the idea of restaurant franchising. In 1965, the chain’s restaurant sales topped those of McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC combined.

By the mid-1950s, Howard Johnson’s had expanded into motor lodges throughout the U.S. and in 1985,
it opened the country’s first turnpike restaurant, on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. By the late 1980s, the company dominated the “eat-and-sleep business along the country’s highways.” But soon afterwards, Howard Johnson’ began a steady decline.

Marriott Corporation bought the chain and later sold it to the Wyndham Hotel Group, which now oversees the Howard Johnson’s brand, primarily in the lodging business.

So what happened? Why did one of America’s most iconic restaurant brands die off?

There are lots of reasons: poor management, cost-cutting, changing tastes, and a lack of enthusiasm within the organization after the death of its founder in the early 1970s. We think it’s also attributable to customer confusion. Was Howard Johnson’s in the 1980s first and foremost a restaurant brand or a motel brand? And do hungry guests really want to stay at the same place where they eat fried clams?

Competition no doubt killed Howard Johnson’s, as well — too many brands in an industry where so many hotels and restaurants lack any true differentiation.

Today Wyndham Hotel Group, the owner of Ho Jo’s, has more than 15 hotel brand properties — including Travel Lodge, Ramada, Days Inn and Microtel. Do these brands have any true differentiation other than what they charge for a room with two queen size beds?

And as far as restaurant brands goes, what’s the difference between an Applebee’s and a Ruby Tuesdays?

In this age of very little differentiation in the hospitality business, a unique experience like Howard Johnson’s is sorely missed.

Photo: Ryan Bayne (Creative Commons)


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