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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What’s The Key Role of Leadership?

What’s The Key Role of Leadership?

As 2017 is nearing its end, the answer is one that’s both consistent and evolving.  Just in case you missed Parts One and Two of this leadership series, here’s a short recap:  The question was asked, “What are the three top responsibilities of leadership, that is, an owner, or C-suite leader?”   

I answered my own question in Part One wearing two hats: experienced owner, and multi-decade “vet” who’s facilitated change and growth in over 1,600 restaurant and hospitality companies in different industry segments.  

Part Two of the series expanded the dialogue. Readers got the perspective of a Founder/CEO, SVP of a multinational brand, and COO of a regional chain.  The panel represented three different industry segments and sizes— all highly successful.

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Learn How Leadership Roles Vary Across Companies, While Still Catering To Fiscal Goals

Learn How Leadership Roles Vary Across Companies, While Still Catering To Fiscal Goals

The responsibilities of leadership, hmmm, not a small topic.  

Regardless of the to do list, resolutely clear is that actions and behavior are important.  This writer’s belief is that Culture equals Brand and Brand experience is Culture.   Inspiration, harassment, high performance or not, all come from leadership.  Brand Experience (internal for staff or external for our customers and guests) really is Culture.   What we accept, what we don’t, what we support or don’t support, all flows from Leadership.  

Our focus on leadership is also important because, at the operations level, regardless of industry segment, managers are leaders by default.  Management and Leadership are both the same and different in many ways.  It’s rare to talk about the nuances, and even rarer to train leadership skills definitively.   

In this second of a three-part series, my intention is to build on what I shared on leadership expectations from experience with over 1,000 operators over thirty years. In this edition, you’ll hear the opinions of three C-suite leaders from very Brand Conscious Companies regarding leadership, management and growth.

On my “leadership panel,” you will meet the following people:

  • Adam Reed, COO of Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar’s parent company, Big Red F residing in Boulder, Co.

  • Nick Sarillo, founder and president of Chicago-based Nick’s Pizza & Pub, the number six highest producing independent pizza chain in the US; and

  • “Brandon,” COO of a Seattle-based publicly traded international QSR, who’s asked to remain anonymous   

Their answers may surprise you.   

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