Brand Reinvigoration and Updating
What do you do with a 43 year old breakfast restaurant chain which has lost its luster? You get a new CEO in there with fresh ideas on how to reinvigorate the brand and that is exactly what Julia Stewart is doing at IHOP!
Stewart took the reigns as CEO in 2002 and quickly got to work on breathing new life into a stayed brand.
But how is it that you bring new life into a brand? The first thing Steward did was to get into the business and learn what exactly the biggest threat was. What is the biggest competition to the brand? But what is this brand really known for and how can we improve it?
Stewart quickly learned that breakfast sandwiches at places like Dunkin’ Donuts and Panera Bread were literally eating into IHOP’s profits. These sandwiches are quick and really inexpensive and clearly that is what people are looking for.
“We only had a single breakfast sandwich on our menu. They are the No. 1 selling breakfast item in America. How does that happen? You have to know how to compete with players in this space who have a lower average check and are quicker,” Stewart recently said in an interview at NYSE Big Stage.
In a direct response IHOP rolled out three new breakfast sandwiches which are meant to be quick and inexpensive. Every brand needs to compete and react to direct threats.
One brand advantage is that IHOP is known for a hot breakfast by friendly staff and Stewart plans on keeping that way. She’s rolled out a franchise inspection system, giving each restaurant a great between A to C.
Any unit that falls into a “C” will have “stricter oversight” until it brings its score up. “Franchisees have to be committed to raising the bar as well,” Stewart says. “I can’t control gas prices or unemployment. Let’s focus on what we can control — that the food is hot, the table isn’t sticky and the service is friendly.”
A brand is really just a promise, a promise that each and every time you reach for that toothpaste or walk into a restaurant you are going to get the same thing. That means if you have a bad experience at one IHOP your feeling for the others will change as would your bad experience with the toothpaste.
Reinvigorating a brand does not mean that you have throw out everything and this is a perfect example of what you can and should do. Building on these and other changes, CEO Stewart has been able to raise the net income for the company up 70%.
Cool Brand Names that Get Attention:
Learn what it is that your brand doses well and make sure that continues and even try to improve it. A forty year old restaurant has built brand equity and if it’s good you don’t want to mess with that but what you do want to do is to bring it up to date.
Let’s face it, we’re different people then were forty years ago and that may mean you need to update your brand to better fit people of today.
We’ve quoted a great recent article from the Big Stage: From NYSE. We highly suggest that if you check it out, click here.
As always, thank you for reading and if you have any questions, comments or suggestions for future posts or blogs, let us know by leaving a comment below.