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Let’s Go Branding

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Shawn Trautman Lessons - Life - Learning - Blog by SHAWN TRAUTMAN
“Let’s Go Branding!”

There was a time I’d go out of my way to find a Moe’s. I know the food isn’t quite the best quality out there, but there was more to it than that.

First, there was the greeting. Loud, proud & engaging… every time someone would open the door and step into their world… “Welcome to Moe’s!!” It didn’t matter what you looked like or what color you were or if you were old, young, cute, ugly, single or with a large group of people. You were greeted like family and everyone in the place turned and looked at the welcomed guest.

The “welcome” set the tone as the ambiance set in. Usually there was some upbeat tunes playing loudly enough to catch a vibe, but not loud enough to drown out a conversation. TVs usually had the latest sporting event playing with closed captioning so you could “hear” the silence. The lighting is usually pretty bright and clean-feeling and it showcases brightly colored fresh vegetables in an appetizing Southwest manner.

In recent years I’ve commented on how much pride their employees showed about their restaurants and how they went out of their way to always make us our own salt-free chips. It was a hassle they always enjoyed as it allowed them to do something specific for the customer and to engage further. Plus, it always helped their “gas fund” (tip jar) and they knew it.

That was then. Pre-Covid.

Fast forward to now. Twice in the last month we’ve been to Moe’s, two different cities. Twice we’ve seen new logos and colors and it’s impressive looking. Twice we’ve been disappointed.

Beyond the visual branding changes, there was something a bit more subtle. A minor change that has major implications. There’s no more “Welcome to Moe’s!!” What? How the? Yep. We’re told it was a corporate decision as they wanted to minimize germ spreading. Also, there was no music nor TVs playing. And, we were told they don’t do custom chip orders anymore so we can no longer get them without salt.

And, just like that, their food tasted a little more bland. My satisfaction with my experience dropped significantly. My engagement with the staff was severely hampered. My desire to go back again ratcheted down a few notches. Their gas fund is mostly empty at a time they need it most.

I can’t help but wonder if their employees really understand what their brand represented. In the same line of thinking, I can’t help but wonder if corporate really understands what their brand represented.

Branding involves a lot more than just a new, fresh logo every couple of years. Branding is your culture. Branding is what you represent and what your customers “think of” when your name comes up.

Policy changes to things that affect your brand are dangerous. Any time you disengage from your customers, you affect your brand, and it’s dangerous. Any time you try to appease the masses and get “woke”, you affect your brand, and it’s dangerous.

Best if you dance with the one that brought you – meaning, if your brand was built on making people feel welcome and taking care of people, it’s best you don’t go and change the recipe… so, yeah, “ Let’s Go Branding!”

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