Is the MTY Group, the Canadian brand operator that owns Cold Stone Creamery, Pinkberry and dozens of other brands the next ‘Sun Capital? By that I mean a brand operator void of a clear path too customer relevance. The customer is dynamic not static the MTY Group and Sun Capital bought brands then practiced ‘brand protectionism’ all the while the customer moved on. Does your brand look more like yesterday than today or tomorrow?
Many restaurant brands that at one time not only had ‘cachet’ and customer relevance, they had the pulse of the consumer an understanding of how to drive brand value when legacy retailers were running flat bought by investment groups have clearly had mediocre leadership that focused on the past glory days rather than the leadership skill-set to drive relevant growth.
Battle for Share of Stomach
Regular readers of this blog know that Sun Capital closed more Boston Markets than they opened, and have reduced Friendly’s from 500 units to 174. Why buy a chain restaurant that has lost its ‘mojo’ without a clear path drive top line sales and bottom-line profits? How many mediocre restaurant brands have been stifled by those doing what they have always done and doing it the same way?
When MTY Group said it has agreed to buy the struggling take-and-bake pizza chain for $6.45 per share, giving the deal a valuation of $190 million Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® wondered out loud how many franchisee’s, store managers and employees will lose their jobs in the next four years? We ask what is the value of a mediocre portfolio of brands that continue to decline? Leadership needs to step-up to stand-out.
The value of a product or brand at times diminishes in consumer relevance as consumer evolve as well. The team at Foodservice Solutions® understands that the consumer is dynamic not static. Here are 10 clues to keep your brand dynamic:
1. Symbolism. Why you are there! The most successful brands are inclusive include values greater than themselves. A lifestyle, a philosophy, an emotion a point in time.
2. A story. Most major brands have a story. Examples: if you like Ford vehicles, you might be familiar with the story of Henry Ford or if you love your Nike's, you probably know how the Nike swoosh logo was created.
3. A track record. When your business is first starting out, don't fool yourself into believing that your marketing efforts are 'brand building' efforts. They're not because to build a real brand, you have to have an extensive track record with consumers.
4. Trust. When you've consistently delivered for your customers long enough, you'll gain the type of trust that many brands have. Case in point: a friend of mine always reminds people that he won't buy an automobile that isn't a BMW. He's had a good experience with his and trusts so much in the company that he doesn't believe there's a better-made car.
5. Expectation. When a consumer chooses a product or service because of brand association, he or she is buying an expectation. Perhaps it's the expectation that the branded product is of higher quality or that the service will be provided in a more efficient manner.
6. Differentiation. Expectation is often borne of differentiation. Many brands offer products and services that are commodities but they're successful in developing some differentiation for their products and services that consumers are sold on.
7. Imitators. Imitation is the sincerest of flattery and you're probably not a 'brand' until you have competitors trying to copy you.
8. Market leadership. Top brands are usually looked at as leaders in the markets they compete in.
9. Adaptability. The best brands are flexible and capable of reshaping and reinventing themselves and their messages over time. Coca-Cola is a good example of a brand that has never abandoned its core product but has evolved its message over time to keep up with changes in the marketplace and society at large.
10. A strong marketing presence. Although it's nice to believe that you can market yourself for free on Facebook and Twitter, the reality is that brands aren't advertising on television and radio because they're dumb. Building and maintaining brand equity requires awareness and awareness requires broad marketing efforts.
Steven Johnson is Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based www.FoodserviceSolutions.us , with extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert. www.GrocerantGuru.com Office: 1-253-759-7869