Listen Up: Building a Better Restaurant Brand with Carolyn Walker

Can we even talk about branding with food in our mouths? Maybe not, but we can talk about restaurant branding with food on our minds. Our own Carolyn Walker has been prepping delicious insights on what makes restaurant branding truly cook, and which misconceptions around marketing are best left off the menu. Grab a plate and help yourself as Carolyn joins Yelp for Restaurants’ Josh Kopel on his podcast, Full Comp

Listen to the podcast here.

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The podcast episode featuring Carolyn Walker, CEO of Response Marketing, delves into key misconceptions in restaurant marketing and offers actionable strategies to position brands effectively in the market. The conversation with Josh Kopel emphasizes the importance of understanding brand identity and customer perception. Carolyn highlights the significance of branding, extending beyond logos and taglines to encompass the customer’s entire experience with a brand.

She stresses that customer experiences start from initial awareness through to interactions on websites, social media, in-person engagements, and even extends to the condition of facilities such as bathrooms. Additionally, the treatment of employees and their alignment with the brand’s values are pivotal in shaping a brand’s perception.

The discussion underscores the power of strong brand messaging and purpose. Walker suggests using frameworks to uncover a brand’s core purpose and the significance of establishing the “why” behind a brand’s existence. Uncovering this purpose not only guides marketing but also influences operations and employee engagement.

Moreover, the conversation highlights the shift in focus within the industry towards performance marketing at the expense of brand building. Walker warns that concentrating solely on digital performance marketing may erode a brand’s core identity and emphasizes the importance of balancing various marketing channels based on their intended purpose.

The conversation touches on the essential role of internal marketing, emphasizing the significance of employees, vendors, and relationships beyond customer interactions. Data collection and utilization emerge as critical elements for improving the customer experience. Harnessing data enables personalized and tailored interactions with guests, fostering a more connected relationship.

The podcast also accentuates the democratization of marketing tools, making them more accessible across different restaurant scales. Walker emphasizes the potential of digital media, AI, and cost-effective platforms for creating high-quality content.

Carolyn’s insights also touch on the necessity of recognizing when to pivot, based on market responses. An example is given from her experience at Sandella’s, highlighting the need to adapt and identify the right customer base and market fit, a decision that significantly transformed the brand’s trajectory.

The episode concludes with the advice to focus on internal marketing, leverage customer data, and explore the diverse range of marketing tools available for restaurant brands.

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