Restaurant Masters: The Formula to Create a Badass Brand

In today’s crowded restaurant industry, most brands focus more on year-to-year survival than mastering their particular market. To compete, companies lower prices, offer promotions, and do everything they can price-wise to get customers in the door—and while rewarding at first, these techniques tend to do little to engender consumer loyalty.

This episode of Restaurant Masters features restaurant coach and former restaurant owner Donald Burns. In part three of his series on building a successful restaurant brand, he offers his best tips for creating a “badass” brand that dominates—rather than competes in—your chosen market. He has written the acclaimed books 2017 Your Restaurant Sucks! and the 2019 Your Restaurant STILL Sucks! and was featured in restaurant software company Toast’s Top Restaurant Experts to Follow in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

“A badass brand is created from core values, emotions, your mission, and your culture,” says Burns. “If you are confused about your brand, your guests are confused too.”

For Burns, truly successful restaurants “disrupt the status quo.” Rather than inventing a new market or type of meal, they simply offer a different approach to a common concept that raises the bar in terms of customer service and consumer experience.

So what are the steps to becoming a badass brand? Successful brands have three key elements: a coherent, concise understanding of your core values and brand promise, a brand kit composed of your restaurant’s image, logo, colors, and fonts, and the ability to consistently convey and execute your brand story.

“All houses need a solid foundation—and for a brand, that’s your culture,” adds Burns. “Core values are what separate the average from the outstanding. If you cannot strive to be an example of the core values your brand has, then they’re not core values, they’re just wishful thinking.”

Check out the episode above to learn more about developing a strong tagline and strategically engaging in social media and traditional market channels!

Produced by:

Darisha Beresford

Darisha Beresford

Production Manager / Sr. Producer

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The Core Four Elements of a Successful Restaurant Brand

A restaurant’s brand identity is more than a logo, color scheme, aesthetic, or type of food. Your brand is your foundation: successful restaurants are built on clear, concise, and comprehensive brands.

This episode of Restaurant Masters features restaurant coach and former restaurant owner Donald Burns. In part two of his series on building your restaurant brand, he offers his best tips for cultivating a successful vision and company culture for your business. He has written the acclaimed books 2017 Your Restaurant Sucks! and the 2019 Your Restaurant STILL Sucks! and was featured in restaurant software company Toast’s Top Restaurant Experts to Follow in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” says Burns. “That’s where most restaurants fail: their vision is to make money. That will never sustain you in the long term. The act of making money is the result of having a sound vision and planning practices.”

Successful restaurant brands have a clear, cohesive set of core values and vision of success, prioritize consistency over creativity, perceive the restaurant the same way their guests do, and use emotion to inspire—rather than manipulate—guests.

“People buy brands they trust,” adds Burns. “Trust is a very sacred pact between the brand and the guest. Once it’s broken, it’s a long hard road to rebuild.”

Many young chefs and business owners make the mistake of prioritizing creative products and fail to consistently provide the same quality taste. “Your brand is not what you think it is, it’s what your guests think it is,” notes Burns. “You want to make sure you’re tapping into those emotions that stimulate loyalty and inspiration and not just manipulation.” Having a novelty product is not the same as innovation, and attracting a slew of customers with a unique product does not automatically create a following.

Check out the episode above to learn more about branding for the long-term and how to design your brand identity and brand story!

Produced by:

Darisha Beresford

Darisha Beresford

Production Manager / Sr. Producer

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3 Brand Blunders You are Making and How to Fix Them

Company culture can make or break a restaurant. Having a clear vision and a well-crafted set of core values is essential for ensuring the longevity of your business.

On the latest episode of Restaurant Masters, restaurant coach and former restaurant owner Donald Burns shares his best tips for creating a brand that keeps your restaurant thriving. He has written the acclaimed books 2017 Your Restaurant Sucks! and the 2019 Your Restaurant STILL Sucks! and was featured in restaurant software company Toast’s Top Restaurant Experts to Follow in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

“All business problems are really people problems in disguise,” says Burns. “Leadership makes all the difference. Culture flows down.”

When Burns opened his first restaurant, he made the same three mistakes he often sees with business owners today: (1) failing to understand what makes a brand a brand, (2) not identifying and pursuing your market, and (3) being inconsistent.

Fully cultivating a brand is a “three ingredient recipe” according to Burns: foundation, framework, and functionality. Your employees and your company culture form the foundation. The framework is your menu and particular restaurant processes, while functionality is rooted in your drive to innovate, market your product, and increase your profit.

“People are loyal to the brands they trust and like,” notes Burns. “You don’t have to be the best.” You just have to be consistent with your niche market.

Check out the episode above to learn about avoiding these brand blunders and recognizing and addressing your restaurant’s blind spots!

Produced by:

Darisha Beresford

Darisha Beresford

Production Manager / Sr. Producer

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How Hot Chicken Takeover is Reinventing the Fast Casual Experience

“Our mission is clear now — simply put, we want to keep creating extraordinary experiences for extraordinary people,” says Joe DeLoss.

On this episode of Emerging Brands, Joe DeLoss—the founder of fast casual restaurant chain Hot Chicken Takeover—discusses bringing Nashville-style fried chicken to Columbus, Ohio. Inspired by Nashville restaurant favorites Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack and Monell’s, Joe DeLoss decided to create his own hot chicken restaurant chain.

Monell’s had family-style southern meals every day of the week,” says DeLoss. “You would join a table with ten other people, and I fell in love with the communal experience. Most guests walking into a fast casual restaurant don’t remember being called out or greeted—our question was, how do we build the infrastructure of our restaurant around recreating that communal experience for our guests and employees?”

Over the last decade, Joe DeLoss has worked in a number of industries in an effort to create employment opportunities for people experiencing or who have experienced incarceration, homelessness, and other hardships. Founded in 2014, Hot Chicken Takeover has become a breakout brand in the Midwest. The chain boasts an excellent employee retention rate and an ever-growing customer base.

In this podcast, DeLoss details his retention and employee development goals as well as the core values of the fast casual chain.

The Hot Chicken Takeover team endeavors to operate from a place of “bold humility” in everything they do. “We listen to everything we hear and take it very seriously. Our goal is to acknowledge and address trends that our customers are experiencing before they become large problems,” explains DeLoss. “We know that we can always improve, and we’re unwilling to get in the way of progress. We measure an employee’s performance against that.”

Listen to the above podcast to learn more about the future of Hot Chicken Takeover, and check out our Emerging Brands podcast to hear from other rising leaders in the restaurant industry. You can also download the Top 150 Emerging Brands Guide to check out the full list of emerging brands from Foodable Labs.

This post is brought to you by Tyson Foods. To learn more, visit The Modern Chef Network.

Tom Holt, Founder and CEO of Urbane Cafe, Shares His Thoughts On Sustaining Growth

On this episode, Tom Holt, Founder and CEO of Urbane Cafe, shares with Foodable insightful information about focusing on the consumer and their demands to sustain growth.

“If you nail down your culture in your restaurant, and you have the right systems and processes in place, those are the areas you can create a winning brand,” said Holt.

Holt emphasizes on setting the culture for your brand that both your team and guests can understand. Whether a brand is within the start-up phases or an already-existing restaurant, setting up the culture and mission statements are the most influential decisions.

Urbane Cafe opened in 2003 in Holt’s hometown of Ventura, Calif. The idea was to create a true community café that focused on quality, healthy and satisfying meals. The concept revolves around a hearth oven, providing freshly baked bread made to order.

Produced by:

Rachel Brill

Rachel Brill

Social Producer


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