Oh Yea, The Food Has to Be Good Too!
January 31, 2019
Over the past few years, we have come to enjoy an outing for lunch where we visit one of two food truck destinations in Fort Worth. It’s quite a fun experience where we all order from different trucks and then enjoy our food together. Many times the conversations involve the food we’re eating and the folks that prepared it for us. And chef-prepared food at a fair price is always better than a simple sandwich and soup at the local eatery. But is there room for brand development when people just come for the food? Or do they?
So I got to thinking about how one food truck finds its distinction. In the brand development process, we capitalize on distinctions. But a distinction without a difference may be only rhetoric in the highly competitive world of food trucks. Can you imagine competing in an industry where everyone has a great product? In fact, the next formidable competitor just drove up beside you and is befriending your customers while they stand in line to do business with you. OMG… what a competitive world the food truck business must be. Right! How do we find distinction for a food truck client among the 100’s of food trucks competing for the same connection with customers? How might a BE member address the evidence of distinction for a food truck?
As brand developers, we think in terms of achieving an emotional connection with our customers through our employees, products and overall experience. We look for ways to interact with our market on that level because it’s the emotional connection that establishes the distinction in the minds of sophisticated consumers. So what was it our grandmas used to tell their daughters and granddaughters… the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?
The BE is a roster of operational brand development managers that are not afraid to open the hood of operations and discover how the product delivers on the brand. We practice a method where operations, human resources and marketing have to work together to deliver the experience in product, people and environment to achieve the connection. Applying these brand tools to the food truck, the first line of brand development has to be in the food. We would challenge our chef to create meals that deliver on a unique and meaningful difference. The meals should have a distinguishable purpose from the other food trucks even if the cuisine is the same. And, the meal has to be delivered by associates that want to create an experience with the meals and environment in which it is served.
Food trucks are not your grandfather’s rolling roach coach anymore. No one can argue that food trucks are not big business in the United States. But what’s so popular about owning a food truck? (Short answer please). Relatively low cost of entry and high self-expression in a time where everyone desires to be a unique individual. So how would a BE member create a brand (i.e. emotional connection) with our customer such they remember our food truck brand and want to come back for more… no matter who is parked beside us.
1. Clear brand identify – What is our brand theme? Here are some that I have seen around Fort Worth: spicy, organic, Texan, Mexican, low costs, high costs, local grown, BBQ, sweet, desert. The point is that the theme of the brand can be discovered in many lines of inquiry.
2. Memorable graphics – Let’s face it. Pictures are worth a thousand words and good (eye-candied) graphics that get the double look add to the opportunity to distinguish your brand from others.
3. Color Scheme – While not separate and apart from good graphics, I think a color scheme is a visual instruction that ties to our brand identity. So while the color scheme and graphics are usually considered in concert, I believe the color must be aligned with the theme. When food truck customers start making their decision on who they’ll buy their next meal from perhaps long before they know what the graphics say… just the memorable color may make the difference.
4. Positioning Statement – Curry in a Hurry is more memorable then Indian Food Sold here. And when it’s good, I just want to visit Curry in a Hurry and not just buy food. Curry in a Hurry finds its way to an emotional connection with foodies on the run.
5. The food truck associates – How are they being used to be part of the experience. What do they wear, what do they say? Are they aligned with our theme and ready to deliver the experience we have contemplated in our theme?
The purpose of this article was to show how the brand development process can be used in a fiercely competitive business like food trucks where uniqueness and distinction is the entry to play the game. But remember, above all, the food has to be good too.
Randy Hurr is a Principal of Immotion Studios in Fort Worth, Texas. He is also a Certified Brand Strategist and became a member of The Brand Establishment in February 2010.