Denise Lee Yohn

How to Spot a Good (& Bad) Brand Extension

What do Bic underwear, Harley-Davidson wine coolers, and Jamba Juice soup have in common? They’re all ways companies have tried to extend their brands—and they all failed.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise that the rough and manly image of the Harley brand wouldn’t fit with the light and girly product attributes of a wine cooler, but the fates of other brand extensions are harder to predict.

How to Name Your Concept (and Do It Right)

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

With all due respect, I must disagree with Shakespeare on his famous quote from the play Romeo and Juliet. Perhaps names don’t matter when you’re in love, but they matter a lot in the restaurant business. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the right name can make or break a company.

A Case Against Social Media

As a child I was a geek who desperately wanted to be popular. In my quest to be cool, I wanted to copy the popular kids’ rebellious behaviors like dying my hair and going coatless in the dead of winter. When I expressed these aspirations to my mother, she admonished me by saying, “Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you should, too.”

Your 2011 Checklist

Ah, the New Year. A time for new beginnings. A chance for a fresh start, to break old bad habits and get on the right track.

At a time when people are resolving to eat less, exercise more, and spend more time with friends and family, I think quick serves might want to turn over a new leaf as well. Many fast feeders have themselves become bloated, complacent, and distracted, so let’s take advantage of the clean slate the New Year brings and resolve to make 2011 the year to get things right.

Give Your Customers a Break

Remember the tagline, “You Deserve a Break Today”? If you’re like me, you probably look back fondly on those days when McDonald’s made it a mantra. The line signaled the spirit of the industry at the time—people really enjoyed going to fast food restaurants, and quick serves really provided a needed break from the stress and boredom of the everyday.

The Price is Complicated

Setting the right price points is no easy task. In today’s post-recessionary economy, product pricing is particularly tricky because consumers’ perception of value is confounding and seems to shift constantly. People will camp out overnight for the chance to buy a $499 iPad, but you can’t seem to spark any interest in a $4.99 burger combo.

Not Just a Punch Card

Consumers are visiting quick serves less frequently these days, and restaurants are desperate to secure some customer loyalty to help offset traffic declines. But too many chains use buy-nine-get-the-10th-free punch cards to try to win customers’ loyalty—and they’ve got it all wrong.  

Punch cards and similar transaction-based promotions may seem simple and convenient, but using them not only causes quick serves to miss out on valuable opportunities, but also works against their efforts to foster profitable, brand-building customer loyalty.

The Details Matter

The adage “the little things you do matter more than the big things you say” applies in fast food more than almost anywhere else. In a research study I recently conducted on quick serves, 48 percent of people said there’s a big difference between what fast food restaurants promise in advertising and what customers experience. For some chains, more than two-thirds of people reported a gap between brand promise and reality.

3 Tips from Food Trucks

Food trucks are popping up everywhere. And these new mobile units have come a long way from the college-campus roach coaches of questionable quality. They now serve gourmet tastes out of clean, well-designed trucks, and they’re attracting respectable office workers and hip club-goers alike.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

The recent debacle over Toyota’s recalls tells a cautionary tale about growth for all companies, including quick serves.

The leaders at the carmaker were accused of relentlessly pursuing market share increases at the expense of product quality. In testimony to a U.S. congressional panel, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda himself admitted, “Toyota’s priority has traditionally been the following: first, safety; second, quality; and third, volume. ... These became confused.”

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