Designing a Right-to-Win Brand Position For Your Restaurant

The most successful brands in today’s foodservice industry have one thing in common: a focused, unique brand value, communicated simply, clearly and consistently. Think of Starbucks, Chipotle or Panera Bread. It sounds like an obvious idea, but anyone who has attempted to develop a unique restaurant concept and keep it relevant over the years knows that this simple idea is anything but easy to accomplish.

The foodservice industry is more competitive than ever before, and at the same time other external barriers such as high leasehold costs and lack of vacancy have further challenged new and existing operators. As consumers drown in options and distractions, the opportunity to catch and hold their attention is fleeting, and few brands understand how to command that moment of truth. Even those who recognize the need to find their niche and claim it, may be unable to achieve this goal due to any number of internal issues: lack of internal alignment, reactivity, poor understanding of strategy, and lack of commitment are just a few examples.

So how does a foodservice operator tackle the enormous challenge of designing a right-to-win position within their given category? First and foremost, by taking a strategic, long-view approach that does not leave any stone unturned and follows a thorough process designed to articulate a company’s unique position in clear, clean terms. Over the past 30 years, Shikatani Lacroix has developed a process we call Think Blink, which we use to help our clients define their place in the market and own it, and here we share some insights from this process with you.

In this paper we discuss some of the critical elements that will influence a positive outcome of such a process, including:

  1. The Value of Clarity and Focus: Considering that a focused message is the goal, the entire organization, from top to bottom, needs to understand what you are communicating, and how.
  2. Corporate versus Business Strategy: Many people don’t understand this difference, which can stymie the creation of an effective strategic approach.
  3. Development of a Brand Card: A brand card succinctly defines all the elements of your company, from its vision to the very pillars it was founded on, in clear, concise language.
  4. Information Gathering and Business Insights: Knowledge is power, but only if you know how to make use of it.
  5. Industry Example: We use a fictitious restaurant to illustrate how an effective position can make or break a start-up in the fast casual category.

There is an enormous amount to consider when developing a right-to-win brand position, but the value of the process cannot be overstated: defining and owning a position within the marketplace is critical to the success of any restaurant or foodservice chain. The process and factors outlined in this paper will clarify what critical elements to be aware of as you begin this exciting new direction.

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