Restaurant Branding Lesson #1: Don't wake sleeping tigers

One thing this world creates naturally is competition. It’s natural and healthy albeit scary and stressful. At first glance, who wants competition? You’d love to own it all, right? Well, that’s just not going to happen, and that is okay. One of the hardest habits to break is to try to take everything for yourself in business. Not only is it poor practice in life, it’s even poorer practice in business. Competition creates awareness and awareness creates patronage. Patrons can be broken into their own unique interest groups and therein lies the framework for branding.

Your competition will most likely have a brand position already firmly established. They own a brand position like “safe cars” (Volvo) or “design innovation” (Apple), “cheap drinks” or “fine food.” They’re probably a large company with a lot of assets and plenty of finances. They are tigers and you are a house cat. Remember that, but don’t fret. All is not lost.

Tigers are primarily concerned with other tigers. They won’t be threatened by house cats unless, of course, that house cat is dumb enough to draw a lot of attention to itself. Even more so, if the house cat gets enough chutzpah to mess with the tiger. The hard, cold truth is the tiger will win every single day of the week.

The way to beat the tiger is not to go head to head with it. Instead, get around it without waking it up. In doing so, you can corner a market strong enough that they could not. Find a niche they aren’t satisfying. Find and own it. Build your business around it from every angle. Walmart did it. They went after a market other stores wouldn’t touch. Before the tigers knew it, Walmart was a bigger Tiger than they and unstoppable.

It works in every industry out there.

Restaurants, take note. If you are a one to three location company don’t wake up the tigers that are most likely around you. You won’t be able to compete with the larger restaurants who can undersell you and out-advertise you. It’s suicide and only one outcome can happen: wasted money and less customers. Keep to your brand. Reinforce it. Build it. And before they know it, you’ll be a tiger that they can’t touch.

Another note: Tiger bites hurt and there is no evidence that cinnamon keeps them away.

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