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How to build a lasting identity

By the time Mike Roberts and crew teamed up with the branding guru Adrienne Weiss, president of Adrienne Weiss Corporation, they had been pitched over 600 names for their fledging concept.

They considered YPC, Your Personal Chef. City Acre was tossed around. The Lifted Fork seemed okay. But none of them hit all the notes. None of them were big enough.

Weiss has helped shape the branding for heavy hitters like Disney, the NBA, McDonald's and Build-A-Bear Workshop.

For Build-A-Bear—a company that has sold 100 million bears in nine countries—the brand identity Weiss helped shape wasn't about bears, per se, it was about friendship: "Where best friends are made."

"The highest level mission is to create a timeless and universal idea," Weiss explains. "And nothing is bigger than 'life.'"

Here are Weiss's rules for developing a lasting brand and how she implemented them to devise the LYFE Kitchen voice.

  1. A brand is a story. And that story is about a big idea that has an emotional attraction and is consumer centric. It's got to tell the customer what's in it for them. Weiss landed on the big idea: life. She then put the customer right in the middle of it by changing the spelling and making it an acronym: Love Your Food Everyday. LYFE. It's our food, but it's yours, the story goes.
  2. The brand is a club. Before you create a club you have to know what unites your members. Then you give it to them. It's about creating affinity. You do this on two levels. One has to do with the look and feel of your restaurant. Making it inviting to customers. The other is through shared values. You make your guest feel good in the restaurant through design, and then you make them feel good about coming because they agree with the restaurant's mission. At LYFE that includes things like healthy food preparations, sustainable construction, support of local farmers and community involvement.
  3. The brand is a country. It has its own language, ceremonies and customs. It's another way of saying that the brand is unique and immersive. Weiss points out how the name "LYFE" comes into play here: employees are "LYFERS," napkins are printed with the slogan "LYFE is messy," eventual drive-thru service will be called "LYFE in the fast

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