As a manager of a brand, it is important to ensure that the personality of your brand is communicated clearly to your audience. However, often times the community reacts to and helps define the brand and its identity. In those cases it is important to understand what values the consumers hold to the brand in order to create a lasting relationship with the audience.
One example of such a strategy is seen in the Applebee’s restaurant brand. Julia Stewart, the CEO of Applebee’s parent company DineEquity, spoke in an interview with Fast Company about how the brand manages it reputation within the community.
As a national brand, Applebee’s is often at the tail end of some joke about generic dining or restaurant chains, which, if handled poorly, can be a nightmare for a company. But the team behind restaurant work continuously to engage in these types of discussions, rather than put them down. Knowing that there are videos goofing on Applebee’s or that people talk on social media about the brand in certain ways allows the company to understand exactly where they fit in to consumers’ minds.
By acknowledging and having fun with their brand personality, Applebee’s is able to manage the identity that their communities have given them. It works in their favor to adapt to and entertain the notion that they are not a serious company. As Stewart says in her interview, “This isn’t the Cuban missile crisis. It’s dinner.”
This is a lesson that any company can take to heart: Don’t force your brand to be something it isn’t. If you listen to your customers and develop the brand to include the values they see in it, you can be personable, genuine and persuasive without being overbearing or fake.