New ways for food court brands to thrive in malls – QSR Magazine
09/12/17 Branding & Marketing Strategy , In the press # , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New ways for food court brands to thrive in malls – QSR Magazine

Originally published by QSR Magazine

For many of us, the food court was the first place to go in a mall. Right in the middle of bustling big box anchors and niche stores filled with everything from menswear to kids’ toys, the cool kids gathered in an epicenter of quick-service restaurants to see and be seen.

Today, those fast times at Ridgemont High have slowed to a crawl as the built-in foot traffic dwindles. The once-thriving paradise of food and friends struggles to find an identity as quick-serves come and go, finding it nearly impossible to survive in this space. As a result, many brands have headed for the nearest exit.

But despite the grimness of the situation, some quick-service restaurants aren’t just surviving; They’re thriving thanks to a delicate balance of operations, product offering, and marketing that can uplift a failing quick-serve and bring some success back to mall food courts.

Finding the right mix requires a challenge to industry norms and perceived truths. For instance, let’s look at a food court brand’s most prevalent form of marketing: engaging and attracting mall employees and people already wandering near their brands. Industry vets would tell you that focusing on anyone else is a waste of time and money.

In years past, they’d be right. However, there have been pivotal shifts in our culture that warrant rethinking this perceived truth. Marketing with the intent of drawing in non-mall diners isn’t going to be effective, but the standard strategy of waiting for them to come to you simply isn’t effective anymore. Food court patrons spend time outside of the mall, yet most brands do nothing to engage with them beyond the four walls. Attracting these guests for an additional visit, and staying top of mind for next time would do wonders to increase traffic.

Of course, that doesn’t mean going back to old guard media standards like direct mail and couponing. Instead, quick-service restaurants need to commit to new marketing channels that align with consumer behaviors. Take the brand to their world and establish relevance in the conversation.

Here are three avenues to take the reigns on realizing success in the highly competitive mall food court space:

Socialize like a human. Too many brands take to social media with a traditional mentality. They smatter their pages with self-serving “buy now” and “look at this food” posts that result in little to no real interaction with followers. To put it bluntly, brands need to ask themselves a tough question, “If my social personality was a person, would anyone be friends with me?” In most cases, the answer would be “no”.

Quick-service brands have to start acting like a human on social to get traction. Interact and engage with people’s posts. Offer something fun and unexpected to the narrative. Post things for the fans, not just the brand. And, yes, once you’ve built a rapport, you can post a deal or promo. At least now, it will be coming from a friend.

Build loyalty through rewards. Gone are the days of punch cards, but the idea is still a good one in theory. People will always like being rewarded for their loyalty, but it has to come in a different form now. Bring loyalty and rewards to them where they spend the most time: on their phones.

White label apps put brands in consumers hands while allowing them to perform multiple functions. Consumers aren’t just looking for a new way to order, which is what most brands push from the start. That should come later down the consumer journey. What they want is a way to collect points and engage with brands on a deeper level; a level frequent buyers deserve.

Bring the food to them. Once again, tuning into consumer behaviors reveals new opportunities for quick-service brands. Today’s consumers do spend time in malls, but they also spend time at home playing video games and binge-watching content. During these lengthy sessions, hunger inevitably sets in. Pizza has been the mainstay choice in these scenarios, but with the adoption and proliferation of third-party delivery, pizza isn’t the only game in town.

Brands inside the food court are positioned well to leverage the power of third party delivery. With some simple number crunching and product mix evaluation, a quick-service restaurant can open a new line of revenue that extends the brand outside the mall. By utilizing new technology that aligns with consumer behaviors, mall food court quick-service restaurant can take a more proactive approach to thriving and succeeding in this space.

Even in food courts, consumers want more from brands. By looking outside the mall, and establishing stronger connections with the current market through new channels, these brands don’t have to swallow the grim outlook that’s being fed to them. There’s a way to win. The brands that embrace these new truths will be the ones that survive and maybe even usher in a prosperous new era for the mall food court.

 

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When & How to Hire a Branding Company. Joseph chats on Branding Brews Podcast
23/08/17 Branding & Marketing Strategy , In the press # , , , , , , , , , , ,

When & How to Hire a Branding Company. Joseph chats on Branding Brews Podcast

As the craft beer and spirits world reaches its tipping point, standing out in the crowd is becoming more difficult than ever. The fact becomes quite clear that handling your craft brewery startup’s branding tasks is a risky move. Continuing with your current, possibly dated look is also not going to fly. I sat with Ryan Wheaton to discuss how would-be breweries, and existing breweries can go about identifying, vetting, hiring, and working with brand identity studios. From the big guys to the small freelancers, there are things to expect and areas to scrutinize to ensure that your brewery is setup for success, and stays ahead of the pack.

Listen on iTunes, on the Branding Brews Podcast website, right here:

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3 restaurant & beverage logo designs accepted into LogoLounge 10
15/06/17 Agency News , In the press # , , , , , , , , ,

3 restaurant & beverage logo designs accepted into LogoLounge 10

We’re always excited to be included in a new publication. It’s even more validating and honoring when it’s one as notoriously brilliant as LogoLounge. This week we were honored to hear that three of our logo designs were accepted into the 10th edition of LogoLounge.

The three logo designs selected are for Defie Moi, Brick River Cider Co, and Fioro.

Logo design for Defie Moi restaurant popup branding in Baltimore, MD

Defie Moi was a pop-up restaurant that focused on Asian-French fusion. The vision of Chef Cyrus Keefer, Defie Moi has graced the Baltimore scene numerous times to much critical acclaim. Our logo design for this food experience is a representation of a classed Chinese dragon mixed with a street-style custom type design.

Logo design for Brick River CIder Company craft cider branding in St. Louis, Missouri

Brick River Cider Co is a craft cider brand based in St. Louis. They have yet to launch, but the buzz is building around this new craft cider experience. The brand identity is a visual representation of the name and it’s Americana roots. Stay tuned for more work on this project as well as announcements of their opening and availability.

Logo design for Fioro fast casual restaurant branding in New York, NY

Fioro is an Italian fast casual brand that launched last year in New York. Read the full restaurant branding case study here. We handled everything from strategy through brand naming and identity design.

 

Learn more about our branding and concept development services for restaurants and our branding and design services for beverages »

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Restaurant Design & Development Magazine Article: 5 ways to bridge the branding & interior design divide
01/06/17 Branding & Marketing Strategy , In the press # , , , , , , , , ,

Restaurant Design & Development Magazine Article: 5 ways to bridge the branding & interior design divide

Originally published in Restaurant Design & Development magazine

We’re all familiar with restaurant interiors. We’re all also familiar with restaurant brands. But over the years, I’ve noticed something: More often than not, the brand identity does not align with the experience created by the interior design. Individually, both may be brilliant — each with their own moments of glory — but together, they fall short, and the gap created by various designers is visually obvious. I’m calling for a collective effort to end this disservice for the sake of our clients — and for our crafts.

When someone visits a restaurant for the first time, it’s a moment of truth. Will perceptions be solidified? From the service to the food to the ambience, there are numerous opportunities to dent — even ruin — the brand as a whole. Despite the particular event’s weight, one mustn’t forget that the impression a guest leaves with doesn’t happen haphazardly.

Trying out a new restaurant (and subsequent visits) often happens only after countless touches with the brand. The prospective guest must hear about the restaurant first. Friends might have praised their experience. The prospective guest might read a review in a magazine or online. Maybe he or she saw an advertisement. Before entering the restaurant, many people visit the website to learn more about it. They may have even followed the restaurant on social media before visiting. Only
after these impressions does a consumer move from unaware and uninterested to an engaged customer.

Advertising, word of mouth, digital outlets, reviews and more all culminate to build expectations, guide perceptions and usher a person through the front doors for the first time. Once at the threshold of the restaurant itself, the space via architecture and interior continues the storytelling. Do the architecture and interior design continue the experience seamlessly or do they convey a different story about the brand?

Often, the brand experience before a first visit is vastly different than the on-site experience. The reason for this is quite clear: There was a blatant lack of collaboration and communication between the interior designers and the branding team. Generally, no single entity is at fault for the divide. In some cases, the architecture is well underway before a branding professional is brought on board, or vice versa. No matter the scenario, it’s rare that these two crucial partners communicate and collaborate the way they should.

Most restaurant startup projects see a mix of creatives working in tandem. Each partner focuses on his or her own discipline and on the process of ushering the client through discovery, design and implementation. In this typical scenario, a restaurant opens with a beautiful space and a beautiful brand. However, these two crucial parts of the overall brand experience compete more than they complement. They are often visually disjointed. It’s not always a glaring difference, and sometimes it’s not even consciously noticeable. However, there exists a visual and emotional rift where a holistic and symbiotic relationship should exist.

There are five key steps to ensure the branding team and the interiors team work to create a seamless experience for guests.

Read the suggestions and ideas on RDDMag.com 

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QSR, NRN & Campaign all publish new articles penned by Joseph
01/02/17 Branding & Marketing Strategy , In the press # , , , , , , , , , , ,

QSR, NRN & Campaign all publish new articles penned by Joseph

2017 has started off with a bang. Our work has been recognized by industry leading publications, GD USA and Print, and over the last couple weeks restaurant and advertising industry publications have shared our thinking. We’re constantly pushing the envelope here at Vigor, and part of doing that is having a finger on the pulse of people’s behaviors and how it affects the restaurant and beverage industries. Both industries are constantly fighting in a sea of sameness; vying for just a modicum of attention from key markets. Whether startup, or growing brands, understanding how your brand fits into their world is paramount for success. The three articles recently published cover some key issues facing restaurant and beverage brands, today. Have a read, and please share if you enjoy.

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Why Are Beer Brands Still Ignoring Women?

Campaign Magazine

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4 Ways Restaurants Can Win Over Generation Z

Nation’s Restaurant News & Restaurant Hospitality

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The New Rules for Naming Your Restaurant

QSR Magazine

 

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Selected for Print Magazine’s Regional Design Annual
29/01/17 Agency News , In the press # , , , ,

Selected for Print Magazine’s Regional Design Annual

2017 has already started off quite brilliantly with accolades and recognition from some of the design industry’s most respected publications and media outlets. Today, we celebrate our first appearance in Print Magazine’s Regional Design Annual – a selection of the nation’s best in class design work for 2016. The brand we crafted for Urban Tree Cidery, Atlanta’s very first cidery, was deemed one of the best in a mix of thousands of entries.

Urban Tree Cidery approached us in 2015 with the vision of bringing authentic cider to the South. Their passion for perpetuating a 100 year old legacy in the form of a family farm in North Georgia, combined with their desire to create a new legacy with their cider. This passion fueled our thinking for visually communicating the brand through packaging, brand identity, interiors, and various other touch points. Checkout the full case study on Urban Tree Cider’s branding and design here

Our recognition is shared by many other amazing designers and agencies who did some stellar work. We’re quite honored. Print also saw fit to include a pull quote from our supplied explanation of the thinking and direction. A little extra ego stroke for our team.

Have a look at the full group of selected work online, and definitely subscribe to Print. You won’t regret it.

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GD USA recognizes our work for Smoke & Duck Sauce
27/01/17 Agency News , In the press # , , , , , ,

GD USA recognizes our work for Smoke & Duck Sauce

When we set out to help our friends over at Smoke & Duck Sauce get into the world, we had one focus: Get people to pay attention to things they thought they knew. For us the opportunity came in Americanizing common Asian food items like the zodiac placemat and takeout menus. Our big thinking led to a redesign of the zodiac mats bringing it up to today’s world. The takeout menus serve as the perfect shape for folding 1 of 1000 origami cranes.

GD USA recently recognized this work via their website. “We’re honored to have the work recognized by such a renowned publication. As readers of GD, we have found the content shared to be of the highest quality and greatest value for the design community. Now, we have a little piece of our hearts and minds contributing to that level of design,” chirped Joseph Szala, Principal and Brand Strategist of Vigor.

From all of us at Vigor, to the GD USA team, thanks a million, friends!

View the full case study for Smoke & Duck Sauce here.

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Featured Article in QSR Magazine: The New Rules for Restaurant Naming
07/01/17 In the press # , , , , , , , , ,

Featured Article in QSR Magazine: The New Rules for Restaurant Naming

Our principal and creative director, Joseph Szala, authored an article focused on successfully naming a restaurant. It starts with the passion driving the restaurant forward. Passion deeper than “good food, good service” table stakes. QSR Magazine picked up the article as an Outside Insights feature. Read it here.

Although published in QSR Magazine, the foundations for name remain relevant for other restaurant formats including Full Service (FSR), Fast Casuals, Casual Dining, and others. Furthermore, the beverage industry from craft beer to spirits and wine can glean the basics of good brand strategy and naming from the article.

Here are some quick quotes to spark your interest:

 

…you’re probably sitting in a room with a committee throwing the proverbial spaghetti on the wall and hoping that something sticks. Design by committee usually ends in a frustratingly boring result. When you have to appease multiple personalities with varying opinions the common result is vanilla.

The strongest brand names are bolstered by detailed, visceral meaning beyond product and service. In today’s world, “good product, good service,” are tablestakes and bottom line expectations. They’re not differentiators by any stretch.

 

Read the full article by Joseph on QSR Magazine’s website »

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Bagels, Bands, and Bravery – Joseph chats on Obsessed with Design podcast
24/06/16 In the press

Bagels, Bands, and Bravery – Joseph chats on Obsessed with Design podcast

Have you ever wondered how I got started in restaurant design and branding? Ever wonder how to find a niche and become an expert in an industry? Ever wonder what The Net is? 

I recently had the honor of speaking with Josh Miles, the host and visionary behind Obsessed With Design. The episode aired today and we cover some great topics for those designers looking to get into the world of restaurant branding and marketing, the design world, and one man’s journey discovering it all.

Listen & Download this Episode, and subscribe to Obsessed with Design »

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Here are the show notes:

As the founder of Vigor Restaurant & Beverage Branding and the blog, Grits and Grids, Joseph has found a home in branding for the food and beverage industry. His passion for great design and great food is evident in his blog, as well as our interview. You can follow them on Twitter here.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How his agency found the food industry and turned it into a specialty.
  • The importance of finding your niche.
  • The creation of his blog, Grits and Grids.
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Joseph chimes in on the Angry Millennial Podcast
06/06/16 In the press # , ,

Joseph chimes in on the Angry Millennial Podcast

I often get asked about how I got started with Vigor and Grits + Grids. I don’t often get asked it on podcasts until recently. Today I embark into the deep underbelly of the Podcast world with some time spent on The Angry Millennial podcast. You may remember the name since I interviewed Jose Rosado, the visionary behind TAM, not too long ago here on GXG.

Jose and I sat down to chat through the origins of Vigor and GXG, trade some fun anecdotes, and fawn over the beauty of a mutual friend’s beard and eyelashes. It’s about an hour long, but mostly entertaining throughout. Have a listen and enjoy your morning.

Listen to the Podcast »

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