We’re taking a quick look back at 2016 and helping marketers plan for the year ahead in today’s episode of Branding Bites! Tune in to watch Shawn and Kacha share their insights into restaurant branding opportunities related to employee ambassadors, digital ordering, loyalty programs, and more.
Kacha: Hi everybody, and welcome to Branding Bites. My name is Kacha. I am the strategy director here at Skidmore Studio and it’s a new year!
Shawn: Hi, I’m Shawn the design director. Happy New Year everybody! Let’s start this Branding Bites with a retrospective of the fast food inventions of 2016. We had Cheetos Chicken Fries, Mac n’ Cheetos, Cheetos Quesadilla, Cheesy Tots, the Whopperito, my personal favorite Pretzel-Breaded Chicken Rings, Pumpkin Spice French Fries courtesy of McDonald’s, and KFC’s Finger Lickin’ Good nail polish. I don’t know. Never actually got to taste it, but it was a good concept, right?
Kacha: It was a fun concept. 2016 was a good time, lot of crazy things happening. Moving into 2017, Shawn, what should marketers know as we’re looking ahead to what they should be doing in 2017?
Shawn: I think what they can do right away in 2017 is a little less noise, a little more signal. I think we’ve done a lot of crazy stuff with Cheetos, as witnessed by the retrospective. Let’s get to the real meat. Let’s do some real innovation. I think we’re starting to see it happen within Taco Bell, a little bit at McDonald’s. There are going to be things that we innovate, that they innovate, that are going to stick.
Kacha: Absolutely. Speaking of Taco Bell and McDonald’s, I’m seeing this trend in a lot more millennial rebrands, where we’re really focusing our brand on that up-and-coming audience, who has been around for a while, but is really going to be your staying power as you move forward as a restaurant brand.
Shawn: Without a doubt.
Kacha: Then, also, for them, app ordering. I think for our CMOs, if you don’t have an app and aren’t enabling mobile ordering for your customers, you’re going to be in trouble for 2017. Things I think we should see more of in 2017: First, social media voices of brand ambassadors, seeing your employees as brand ambassadors. For example, your server comes up to the table. He’s your number one brand ambassador. Give him a voice in your social media channel, right? Then, secondly, loyalty programs that make sense for a millennial generation. Right now, most loyalty programs are active. I have to do something in order to trigger and activate. Can we create passive loyalty programs through big data?
Shawn: Passive programs that are active enough so I still know I need to come back and you know that I’m coming?
Shawn: Then I just want to touch on the experience a little bit. Skip the lines, get that app like you talked about. I want to get to the dining, the eating experience. Make that the experiential part, not the ordering part. I think you still want to have that experience. You just don’t want to have it while you’re ordering. You want to have it while you’re eating.
Kacha: Absolutely, that’s the product. It’s the food and the eating and enjoying that experience, not all the peripheral stuff around that. Let’s make that easier.
Shawn: I think 2017 is going to be a great year.
Kacha: It’s going to be awesome. Now is the time in the program when we do Bittie Bites. Bittie Bites is that part of the program where we pull things out of the magical envelope. These are things that have happened in the last week or so in restaurant branding and marketing. Shawn and I give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down based on our personal opinion of these things. What have you got this week?
Shawn: We’re going to start off with a local story. It made the headlines here. The first Applebee’s/IHOP is coming to Detroit in 2017.
Kacha: Pancakes and burgers.
Shawn: Yeah, burgers instead of pancakes. I love it. The best of both worlds, good for everyone that wants something.
Kacha: This is going to be fun.
Shawn: Absolutely. Next, a heartfelt one: Hershey’s holiday commercial. It actually debuted in 1989. Can you believe it?
Kacha: I cannot believe it because it feels like just yesterday. We see it every year and we love it every year. You know it was an accident? They didn’t even want to create this. This was something they had extra time in the studio while they were shooting other commercials and they just ran with this one really quick.
Shawn: Big thumbs up. I hope it never stops playing.
Kacha: Awesome. Good job Hershey’s.
Shawn: Next up: The Krispy Kreme Nutella announcement.
Kacha: Oh, Krispy Kremes and Nutella, is there a better thing?
Shawn: Seriously. You’re excited about this?
Kacha: I’m very excited about the food. I hated that commercial because it was a great concept poorly executed. It was like I could hear the agency pitching it and then failing to actually make it good.
Shawn: You know, I’m the exact opposite, not crazy about Nutella. I think we’re overloaded on it, but I thought the spot was great. It was a lot of fun.
Kacha: This has been awesome. Thanks everybody for joining us for Branding Bites this week. Again, Happy New Year. If you have questions, please hit us up on Twitter @SkidmoreStudio. We’d be happy to answer them next week. Happy New Year, we’ll see you next week.
Shawn: Happy New Year, guys. See you soon!