Staying in Focus


I consider Dickey’s Barbecue a great brand.  This is based on the culture at our company, our leadership and values, along with our commitment to quality and service.  But, let’s be honest, there are many brands out there that share those qualities.  In an effort to keep our flywheel moving, I’m always considering principles that will continue the momentum.

Brands like ours can’t bank on gaining market share just by having the fastest service, lowest price or most innovative menu because there will always be another brand nipping at our heels. Instead, we focus on the sticky characteristics that help our guests solve challenges while never swaying from our brand promise of delivering quality products with passion.

We also engage our guests in conversations via social media, our guest response program and review sites so that our focus continues to improve. The more we interact with our guests, the better informed we are about their needs, priorities, and perception of our company values. Listening sharpens focus but also helps us to relate to our guests on a very basic level.

Marketing Strategist, Denise Le Yohn, recently penned a book titled What Great Brands Do. The title alone had my attention and also the fact that Inc. Magazine put the book in its Top Marketing Books list at the end of the year.  In her book, Denise shares action steps that great brands take that lead to greatness starting with an alignment of words and actions.

"I've heard people define a brand as a company's name, logo, image, advertising, aura, personality, look and feel, attitude, reputation, or trademark. But the fact is that none of these are your brand. These are manifestations, symbols, or expressions of your brand--and by limiting the definition of your brand to this external, surface level, you fail to realize its full business value,” she says. “As you examine the principles that drive the world's greatest brands, you will see the correct, complete view: A brand is a bundle of values and attributes that define the value you deliver to people through the entire customer experience."

I’m with Denise. Every brand has a value proposition to share. The old adage “people do business with people they know, like and trust,” has never been truer.  They also want to purchase from brands they respect and are consistent with their values. The reality of any brand is that every single employee at our company has an impact on the brand. And today, so does every guest. A brand promise is a commitment to taking care of their needs and giving them a consistently positive experience with our company.

You don’t recommend your dentist to friends because he gives a great root canal.  You refer friends and family because of the guest experience you got in that office.  When guests drive up to our restaurants, the experience starts.  It doesn’t end until they walk out the door and honestly it doesn’t even end there.  It’s the aroma of the food, the music in the background, and the friendly guy on the block who asks about their day.  It continues when they leave and post on Twitter or Yelp about their visit.  We are still with them listening to confirm they had an overall great experience. Social media platforms give us unprecedented access to information about where we’re succeeding in wowing guests, where our efforts fall flat, and where opportunities are emerging to strengthen ties with the communities we serve.

In What Great Brands Do, Denise offers advice on culture shifts, making emotional connections with guests and creating resonance that lasts past the trend markers. She also talks about staying committed to consistency and always “sweating the small stuff” when it comes to guest touch points with your brand. Details matter.

The book reiterates "Your brand is the experience that is actually delivered and communicated through every single thing you do, every day, around the clock."  That commitment and focus are the differentiators to greatness.  There is always another brand who can provide a service better, faster and cheaper but not the emotional connection and trust of a great brand.  At Dickey’s that commitment is part of our culture and it starts with my family. We keep our knives sharp, our focus sharper and our commitment to guest experience in focus.