Today national brands are facing a challenge—fitting into the local market. While it is important for chains to attract the millennial customer with unique experiences at their restaurant, it is equally important that their brand remains recognized.

Many restaurant brands are adding locally sourced foods to attract the millennial population, which is one step in the right direction. Another step to going local is with the brand itself. Brands like Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Lululemon are letting go of their national standards in lieu of a local image.

But, why shed their standards they’ve worked so hard to achieve? Ever since chains became popular a hundred years ago, they have found success with consistency, image, and experience. The benefit of a brand is that customers are guaranteed familiarity.  Brands should be able to have a local image while remaining recognized nationally, maintaining their reputation. How?

Brand architecture could be the answer for chain restaurants. Brand architecture is the relationship between brands within an organization that interact with each other. Chain restaurants can become unique to the community while their branding and signage remain recognized.  There are different types of brand architecture that restaurant chains could utilize for their local stores:

Sub Brand. Apple utilizes Sub Brand as it has multiple products. While they may not have Apple in their name, they are branded as Apple and promote the parent brand.

Branded House is another option that could be used. It is a type of brand architecture where the master brand is always present, however brand extensions are provided. FedEx utilizes Branded House as it has several logos, however the “parent” logo is included in each one.

Hybrid or Endorsed Brand are packaged brands under a master brand. This allows each to develop their own identity while remaining associated with the master. For instance, The Residence Inn by Marriott. 

The benefit of dining at a chain restaurant is the confidence of consistency in the product. Customers know they’ll receive the same quality at any chain location. With brand architecture, chain restaurants could take advantage of the benefits of their brand while providing a unique experience to millennial customers. Try brand architecture when going local. You’ll put confidence in your customers while providing them with a unique experience.

Jamin Rosenfeld uses his 17-plus years of experience to lead the signage and brand management team of Integrated Image—a group of skilled graphic designers and signage fabricators. He leverages his team’s expertise earned through multi-site conversions for restaurant and retail brands. When he isn’t checking in with clients or mentoring his staff, Jamin is pursuing new programs, managing budgets, and attending trade shows.  After hours, he’s a happy suburban dad—coaching his son’s sports teams, working in the garden, and spending time with his family.

Outside Insights, Story