New Loblaws At Maple Leaf Gardens: A Love Affair with Food.

New Loblaws store at Maple Leaf Gardens

There hasn’t been a line up at the Gardens for 10 years.  But there was today.  Maple Leaf Gardens is the heart and soul of many Torontonians and yet inside now sits a grocery store.

The launch of the new Loblaws in the heart of Toronto is clearly a stake in the ground to say “we love food”.   In fact, Loblaws screams it.   I must confess that I love grocery stores, big and small, everywhere on earth.  I’ve been known to sneak into grocery stores on my holidays just to look around—from Paris to Edinburgh, from Monaco to Auckland and from St. Petersburg to San Francisco.   And now in Toronto, I’ve seen the nicest grocery store I’ve ever seen.

From the turnaround in the 1980s, with Dave Nichol and the creation of the President’s Choice brand that enticed so many, Loblaws reached Beloved status, clearly ahead of any competitor in sight. Consumers admired Loblaws and the great things they were doing while competitors and vendors feared them.

The Beloved Loblaws brand of the 90s had fallen back to Like It, as everyone caught up. This new store is a stake in the ground that Loblaws can be loved again.

As Loblaws stumbled in the early 2000s, with mergers and internal politics, they became obsessed with beating Wal-Mart and started to look like Wal-Mart.   Before 2003, Loblaws and Westfair operated seperately.  With Wal-Mart getting stronger, the desire to be a Mass Merch was taking over.  They were no longer a grocery store and now clearly a Mass Merch store.  They launched glorious sized stores that they named “Real Canadian Super Store” which is about as generic of a name as you can get.  In fact, Wal-Mart calls theirs “Super Centre”–almost the same.   These mega sized stores are filled with cheaper versions of T-Fal pans and $15 blankets.   The Loblaws name was nowhere to be seen.  Why? Because of internal politics.    Competitors were catching up, Sobeys and Metro launched some pretty good copy cats.  Loblaws didn’t really do anything in a while.   And Loblaws was falling from Beloved back to Liked and it was now the same as the rest.  

Today, as I approached the new Loblaws store, the first thing I noticed was “Great Food” attached to the logo.  And once inside, that’s all I saw–Great Food.   I saw all the cupcakes, the cheeses and of course the Chocolate Mound where I bought some freshly carved slices of chocolate.

Chipping a piece of Chocolate from the Mound of Chocolate. Very fresh taste.

Everyone was making stuff:  freshly cooked chickens and freshly baked breads.  Rejoice in the love of food.  I kept saying “wow” at every turn.  The fresh bread, baked right before your eyes.   Most grocery stores say Fresh all the time, this one was showing it.

Loblaws took a giant step forward, a step back from liked towards beloved, helping to separate themselves from the competition.   And as I said many times in the 80s and 90s, “I can’t wait to see what Loblaws does next”.   Exciting.  

Here are some more photos of the New Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Wall of Cheese on display.
The most impressive signal of Fresh was that there must have been a hundred people in the process of making something.
First Line up at MLG since 1999.
Very beautiful lighting, feels European and Expensive
Vantage from above the fresh produce area.
Deli counter with fresh foods all around.
Old Seats from the Old Gardens. Golds were the best back then.

Listerine PocketPaks: A case of becoming a beloved brand through execution that people love

It was 11 years ago this month, that I launched the Listerine PocketPaks brand here in Canada.  It was one of the most exciting launches I’ve been a part of–with an amazing consumer response.  Good memories.

We knew we had something different and wanted to take advantage of that difference.   As we brainstormed, we talked about how movies get such quick awareness and desire.   We wanted that–and used that as our model for the launch.

About 4 weeks before the launch, we got devastating news that the launch would be delayed three months.  All the media and sampling programs had already been set, and distribution was committed.   This could destroy our brand before it even launched.  Instead, the delay helped because with all the media and sampling programs pre-launch, it actually created such a pent up demand for the brand, that once we launched, we hit a 55% share in the first month.

The key programs for Listerine PocketPaks.

  • DRIVE TRIAL IN SOCIAL PLACES:  With a product like this, you had to try it to believe it.  We sampled all summer in events like film festivals, food events and carraces–and the theme of the sampling was Aliens from another planet, with attractive 20-somethings in tight blue silk, ready to fully engage in conversation about this product from out of no where.  We gave out full pack sizes, and we know from tracking that people shared them with an average of 13 people.   For every million samples we gave out, we were reaching 13 million people.   They spread the word for us.

    Sampling Events, with Aliens from outer space. Dropped 1 million full size packs before the product hit the shelf, creating pent up demand.
  • DRIVE AWARENESS IN SOCIAL PLACES:   With movies as our inspiration, our Advertising took a very movie feel–launching an 89 second movie ad in theatres that summer.   One other convention we broke was we didn’t say the brand name until second 46, so that we could fully engage the consumer before they knew it was an ad.  Lots of pizazz, but in reality the ad is all about the 5 step demo of using the product.   The advertising results were very strong on breakthrough, brand link was huge, made the brand seem different and persuasion were very strong.

    The way movies marketed new products was our inspiration. And made it’s way into our execution.

With all the activity through the summer, there was such pent up demand, that we hit a 55% share of the mint market in the first share period, and maintained a #1 share position throughout the first three years.    We over-delivered our forecasts by over 50%.  Stores could not keep this in stock.   We won the Product of the Year award and the Advertising won a Cassie for Best Advertising.  And on top of that we were the enviable “most stolen product in Wal-Mart”.

The ending of the story is not so pretty.   Like most confectionary products, it had a spike early on, but we weren’t able to sustain.  From a production point of view, they never figured out a way to get that damn strip in the pack for a reasonable cost.  Compared to food or confectionary, the margins were very strong at 60%.   But compared to the other healthcare margins of 75% or 85%, Pfizer could not justify the investment to keep the sales strong.   Different brands tried to use it on other healthcare products as a delivery mechanism.  But it never caught on.   Listerine PocketPaks captured the imagination of consumers in the summer of 2000, with marketing execution all designed to make it a beloved brand.

You’ll still see it around some places, but we haven’t fulfilled that one consumer’s belief that he’ll never have gum or mints again.

Article from Strategy Magazine Go to:

Is the Bose brand considered high quality or low quality?


bose-logo-vectorAmong the masses, Bose is one of the most respected, trusted and beloved brands when it comes to audio speakers and headphones.  That’s what their core target market would say. But to serious Audiophiles, with a discerning ear, Bose is total crap, with inferior technology, shabby production standards and resulting poor value. This might be the equivalent about asking a Foodie what they think of Morton’s Steakhouse or Ruth’s Chris.

Bose has a great word of mouth reputation. I remember when I first heard of Bose, it was a guy at work, who seemed to know more than I did say definitively “Bose are the best speakers you can buy”. I immediately believed this to be true and have felt that way ever since. I proudly own Bose headphones, a Bose docking station and Bose speakers in my car. I am a highly satisfied Bose fan.

I wanted Bose Speakers for my TV, having drooled over the idea for years. So I went into a Bose store, listened to a few different options and they all sounded amazing. So I looked on the Bose box, and there was no mention of Watts at all or really anything. My first thought was “wow, Bose is just such a great brand, they don’t really need to get into those tiny details like watts”. But I wanted to compare brands just to ensure I was spending good money. So I went on-line and here’s the Bose specs: still nothing.


Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 9.36.05 PM



That brings us to The Bose philosophy: Unlike other audio product manufacturers, Bose does not publish specifications relating to the measured electrical and objective acoustic performance of its products. This reluctance to publish information links back to the classic Amar Bose paper presented in 1968 “On the Design, Measurement and Evaluation of Loudspeakers”. In the paper, Bose rejects these measurements in favor of “more meaningful measurement and evaluation procedures”, and considers the human experience the best measure of performance.

For Bose, sound is an experience, not a statistic. Bose spends all their effort and dollars on perfecting the in-store sound demo so they can show off Bose’s great sound quality and let consumers be the judge of their sound.  And yet it’s arguably tough for the average ear to distinguish. Bose invests a lot of money into their own retail stores as well as the store-in-store concepts. That way, it can control the experience the consumer gets with its products–ensuring the consumers hear Bose at it’s best.

Bose has figured out how to make their brand work to their advantage–the proof is in the sound you hear in the store. There’s a certain magic that happens in store when listening to the Bose stereo system. Despite what Audiophiles say, consumer feedback from the masses is definitively in favour of Bose with very high scores. And in a most recent poll, Bose is the #3 trusted brand in Consumer Electronics, so they must be doing something right. It’s tough for consumers to separate Product from Brand, even a brand like Apple has had success in this confusion where consumers think Apple has “great products”. To the masses, Bose is a great brand and has great products.

Is Bose a beloved or hated brand? You be the judge.  


Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management.

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

To contact us, email us at or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands.

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A Truly Beloved Brand: G Adventures


Ask a communications expert about the wisdom of changing the name of a successful company, and you’ll get succinct advice: don’t. “Unless it’s completely irrelevant or legally necessary, or the name has become totally stagnant, I wouldn’t change your name because it’s such a massive undertaking,” says Mia Wedgbury, president of High Road Communications in Toronto.

But this fall, Toronto-based tour operator Gap Adventures was forced to do just that when a legal ruling in a trademark infringement lawsuit brought by Gap Inc. gave it three months to devise a new identity in the U.S. market. The apparel chain claimed the Canadian company was intentionally confusing consumers to boost its business. Bruce Poon Tip, the travel company’s founder, initially waved off the attack. “I didn’t see how people might think they were buying pants when they were buying adventure travel.” He had picked the name (which stands for Great Adventure People) in 1990 only after deciding the original moniker, Pathfinder, might produce confusion with the car brand.

But after a four-year legal battle that cost more than $5 million to fight, Poon Tip was tired of the distraction. Initially, he considered only changing the name in the U.S., which represents 14% of the company’s business. However, several factors argued for a global revamp. First, in Europe and Australia, a “gap year” denotes a year off between school and work, creating the suggestion the company catered to students. According to Branding 101, a global company must have a consistent image. Finally, Poon Tip thought Gap’s highly loyal customers would take a name change in stride. “I’ve never believed that the name matters,” he says. “It’s what you do that breathes life into your name.”

At it turned out, customers disagreed. When Toronto branding firm Level5 Strategic Advisors polled consumers, the results were stunning. A question asking for alternate name suggestions produced such aggressive opposition to a name change that Level5 took the question out mid-survey. The agency’s president David Kincaid compares consumers’ attachment to Gap to the intense passion fans feel for their favourite rock band. Adventure travel is a “highly emotionally driven category,” he says, and his research found a striking uniformity in how employees, customers and partners viewed the brand. That was the good news; the downside, warned Kincaid, was that a renaming would erode that brand equity.

It was a scary finding, Poon Tip says, but he pushed on. Over eight weeks, Gap’s marketing team and Level5 ran strategy workshops and “name-storming” sessions, with employees invited to contribute suggestions. Poon Tip had two favourites: G Adventures, which would be relatively low-hassle and allow the company to keep its G logo; and Yolo, an internal brand that’s an acronym for “you only live once.” Staff liked the idea of creating their own word, like Google or Geiko. Kincaid’s team, however, resisted Yolo, saying it would require too much explanation in the marketplace. Meanwhile, G Adventures didn’t make it past an early poll of company executives.

Level5 narrowed the options down to two: Planeterra, the already trademarked name of Gap’s non-profit foundation, and Go, an active word inherently linked to travel. Poon Tip realized that Go could also stand for “great ocean,” which is the English translation of the Dalai Lama, a significant figure for Poon Tip who inspired him to stick with the business during an early crisis. While both Go and Planeterra scored strongly, Go skyrocketed when consumers heard the story behind the name.

Go was a go. The company even bought the domain, at considerable cost. But Poon Tip started having second thoughts. It bothered him that some survey respondents found the name boring. “When they thought of it in relation to us, they thought it was unexciting,” he says. There were also lots of companies already using that name. Even the fact it was so specific to travel started to strike Poon Tip as too safe, and potentially limiting. He looked at other name changes, such as changing to, and that took him back to G.

Not long after, he held a conference call with 18 global executives. He stated the case for Go and for G, then asked for opinions. His team leaned slightly toward Go. Though he went into the meeting split 50/50, it proved to be like the coin toss test: his reaction to the outcome showed him which way he really leaned. He especially liked that the word “go” is still present in the logo’s circle around the G but, likethe Fedex arrow hidden within its wordmark, it’s speaking only to those who know it’s there.

While the change is relatively small—the company is just dropping two letters, and keeping the Great Adventure People tagline—the logistical challenge is significant, says Wedgbury. “The name is how people find your brand,” she says, and there’s a risk of confusing the marketplace and losing clients, and, of course, the cost of changing everything from signage to the website to merchandise. The company’s dispersed operations complicate the picture. “If I’ve booked a trip with Gap and I suddenly I see a new company name when I arrive, that doesn’t instill confidence,” says Wedgbury. And since it’s a court-mandated change, an oversight, at least within the U.S., can have financial implications.

But it’s the soft costs that will be most complex, says Kincaid. “They need to make sure that every consumer touchpoint understands the reason behind the new name,” from employees at an Australian call centre to tour leaders in Peru. “This isn’t something you can dribble out. The most effective word in marketing is ‘new,’ but you only get one chance to say it.”

Since Gap isn’t required to rebrand outside the U.S., Poon Tip plans to roll out the name change over six to 12 months. The company has generally eschewed traditional advertising in favour of viral marketing and referrals, but this change, says acting global VP of marketing Cindy Zesk, “will present a new set of challenges.” Travel agents, who represent 70% of Gap’s bookings, will be the biggest one, she says. “So we’ll take it to a real personal level, with speaking engagements, personalized emails and phone call explaining why we’re doing this.” With consumers, she says, the company’s value proposition “is a way of life. It’s not something we can put in an advertising tagline.”

G Adventures, Poon Tip admits, tends to leave people cold until he explains his vision for spinoff brands such as GLodge (a property being built in the jungle of Peru) and GNation (a social networking platform). Like Apple’s ‘i’, the G offers limitless extendibility. Having to change your name after 21 years in business is “not an ideal situation,” he admits, “but we’re taking it as an opportunity.”

Nevertheless, he remains bitter about the legal fight. He still owns the domain name. “I might sell it to a porn company.” He insists he’s not kidding.

What’s the Most Beloved Brand In Education?

It depends what kind of love you're looking for from higher education.

It depends on your criteria.  If it’s a non-stop party action without getting kicked out, University of Georgia is consistently ranked in the top 10 of parties schools.   And technically, that might make it the most beloved.   Georgia actually has tough admission standards, but that might just be the same way that a hot bar also attracts a crowd.

But the strongest most respected brands in higher education are Harvard at the top followed by schools such as Princeton, Oxford or Cambridge.  Maybe Stanford, as the cooler, hipper, west coast answer to Harvard.   Maybe MIT or Cal Tech for the more mathematically inclined.  Criticize them all you want, snub your nose back at them or rationalize why you chose somewhere else.  To many people, it sounds like you got help from Daddy.   But these brands do help to separate a student from the pack upon graduation and sits on their resume for the rest of their lives.

Harvard makes $150 Million a year from selling t-shirts.

When students choose a school, in a way, they are borrowing  a piece of the equity from that school in how they want to portray themselves.  Harvard has a lot of equity from which Students can borrow.   Place in History:  With 375 years, there’s a long list of noble alumni–including 8 U.S. Presidents, 50 Nobel Prize Winners, dozens of Pulitzer Prize Winners and Supreme Court Justices plus a very long list of CEO’s.  Harvard even has a long list of Harvard drop outs including Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg or even Matt Damon.  Harvard Schools: Whether it’s Law, Medicine, Business or Political Science, each school on it’s own, finishes at or near the top of their disciplines.  Graduates are sought after, commanding strong salaries and a robust Harvard Alumni network, notorious for helping out at all stages of their careers.  The Harvard Cache:  There’s something romantic about Harvard, as it’s portrayed in movies such as Love Story, Paper Chase or The Firm.

Harvard’s beloved brand status translates into Brand Wealth.   Harvard’s endowment is estimated at $28 Billion, double it’s closest rivals and dwarfing the University of Georgia party school ($572 Million) or Canadian schools like University of Western Ontario ($318 Million) or Queen’s ($527 Million)   Harvard’s revenue per year is $9.3 Billion which would be about the same size as Starbucks or Southwest Airlines.   Harvard has many sources of revenue, including investment gains, student tuition and donations.  Harvard even generates a whopping $150 Million in T-shirt sales, people just wanting the smallest slice of the Harvard brand.  Now that’s brand wealth.

Most Beloved Hockey Team Brand: The Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs are clearly the most Beloved Brand in Hockey.   While there are lots of great fans of great teams, the Leafs stand alone with insane fans about a bad hockey team.   The Leafs have not made the playoffs since 2004 and have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967, yet it has a following like no other hockey team.  Most of the other Beloved sports Teams, whether it’s the Yankees or Man U or the Montreal Canadiens all reward their fans constantly with victories.   It’s not very hard to be a fan of a team that has won 25 championships.   But with a few teams like the Leafs or the Chicago Cubs, it’s not easy being a fan.   Constant let down and heart break.   The connection to the Leafs is not a rational one, but rather an irrational choice–or as Hotspex would say “e” rational that talks to the EMOTIONAL connection.

It's a 40 year wait for Leaf seasons tickets. These end up in people's wills.

Let’s look at how the Leafs business model works.  1.  Getting tickets to a game is nearly impossible for the average fan.   They have strong luxury box sales and a strong base of seasons tickets.   Season Tickets are passed down to family members in wills.  At Pfizer, we put our name on the waiting list and they said it could be up to 40 years to get tickets.  If you do have tickets, you can easily scalp them for twice the value on game night.  2.  Every game is on TV, with strong ratings–a usual top 20 in the ratings for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights.  In fact, if CBC every lost HNIC, it’s possibly the end of the network.   The Leafs receive added earned media with 2 sports TV stations, 3 radio stations and 3 major Newspapers constantly covering every move the team makes.   3.  The team’s sponsorship drive is incredible–carrying an astounding 52 sponsors on it’s roster–including separating out the banking category into Core Banking, Wealth Banking, Credit Card banking, which allows them to get money from three separate banks.   4.  Merchandise sales are very strong.   The Leafs have just announced it was changing its third jersey to be a replica of the 1967 jersey.   Which means all those fans have to go out and drop another $129 on a new jersey.  This past year, the Leafs have added a sports bar to the ACC, just outside the arena that has hundreds of TVs and seating for two thousand people.   5.  Control of Costs works for the Leafs.  In the 90s, as the Canadian dollar slid, players started to demand being paid in US dollars.  Since that decision, the dollar has gone from 63 cents to parity and the Leafs bottom line has benefitted.   In terms of Brand as a Business System, the Leafs get it.   They derive all their value from their brand.

Leafs value continues to climb: In 2011, it's now up to $527Million.

If we look at the hockey results, the Leafs haven’t made the playoffs since 2004.   So let’s use 2004 and 2010 as the basis for comparison on numbers.   In those six years of hockey despair, overall revenue has gone up from $117million to $187million.  In the last year, with the world facing a global recession, following up on a 29th place finish in the standings, the Leafs revenue went up ELEVEN PERCENT!!!  And because of the player strike a few years ago, player costs have gone down from $69 million to $57million.   That’s a P&L the people of Price Waterhouse dream about.      The resulting brand value has seen the Leafs value go from $280million in 2004 up to $505 million in 2010–making it the #1 valued team in hockey.   Seven years of missing the playoffs and the value of the team has nearly doubled.

Compare the Leafs to the Red Wings, who use the slogan “HOCKEY TOWN”.   The Red Wings are clearly the best hockey team in the past decade, best win percentage, most playoff appearances, most Stanley Cups.   Let’s use 2004 and 2010 again.  In those six years, Detroit’s revenue has gone up from $97million to $117million, a gain of 20% while the Leafs revenue were up 60% over the same period.  Ticket sales are actually down at Joe Louis arena by about 10%.   While the Red Wings made back to back Stanley Cup finals, you could have actually gotten a ticket at face value the day before one of the games.     The value of Red Wings team has gone from $248million up to $315million, a solid gain of 27% in value but dwarfed in comparision to the Leafs 80% gain in value over the same period.

It's not easy being a Leaf Fan. Yet no one really stops being a Leaf fan.

Now, we must come to the question of why?   Are Leaf fans crazy?   I do remember a few years ago, on Trade Deadline day in late February, there was a quote from a fan who said “I can’t believe I took the day off from work to watch the Trade Deadline and my Leafs didn’t do anything”.   That’s borderline crazy.   The Leafs are the eternal underdog, where the pursuit of victory is greater than the victory itself.  But we might not ever find out.   I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the Leafs WILL NOT win a Stanley Cup in my lifetime.   And yet, I remain a fan.   If they ever do win the cup, I’m not sure if the team’s value will go up or even down from there.   Debate all you want, we may never find out.

Toronto likes to think of itself as the centre of the hockey universe.   Not even close.   Name me great hockey heroes from Toronto and the list is much shorter than that of Montreal.   In fact, on a per capita basis, Saskatchewan is the true centre of the hockey universe.  Most hockey superstars are from the remote locations like Perry Sound, Brantford or Flin Flon Manitoba.   Maybe Stamkos will be the one that breaks through the top 50 all time.   In the past 30 years, it sure hasn’t been the great players on the team.  The Leafs have only had two players, Gilmour and Sundin, that you could call superstars, and a handful of good players like Curtis Joseph, Borje Salming, Wendell Clarke or Rick Vaive.  But Toronto fans have made the most of average and have created mythical figures in Felix Potvin, Bryan McCabe or Mike Palmateer.  Not sure where Reimer will be on this list, but if you talk with a Leaf fan, they think of him in the same breath as Patrick Roy.

As we are on the cusp of a new season, Leaf fans are optimistic.   And ready for another Cup run.  There’s only one thing I know for certain and would actually bet on it.   The value of the Leafs will go up this year.   YEAH!!!

The Beloved Burger: BURGER’S PRIEST.

Original Story, October 2011:  This saturday, I visited THE BURGER’S PRIEST in Toronto.

Great Mystique created around the whole Priest thing. Different makes them stand out.
Burger 9 out of 10, fries 6.5 out of 10.

Even before you try the burger, you hear the story first, and it’s quite crazy.   That’s the way a brand should be.  I have had quite a few people tell me that the Burgers Priest was clearly the best in Toronto.   But then they get into the story telling of what they know.   Part of the story is this idea of a secret menu, that you have to ask for.   Funny enough but if you google “Priest Secret Menu”, you’ll see about 15 stories come up from various Food Critic reviews.   Confirms that it’s a marketing ploy–and a great one for driving word of mouth.   The second part of the story is that the owner, who most describe as crazy, even though they never likely interact with him.   Apparently, one day he was looking for a really good burger and couldn’t find one.  So, he decided to just get in his car and drive until he could find one.  He ended up in his car for six months, travelling all through the US from New York to the South, through Texas and Out to California and back.   He was intent on learning about the secrets of the best hamburgers he could find.   He’s has photos, up at the Priest, of all the great burger places that inspired this burger.   Once back, he took all the great ideas and build his own burger.   He’s layered in the idea that this burger is a religious experience, with the priest idea.  And the mission is to  missio “redeem the burger one at a time”.  That’s the brand story anyway.

Now with a brand story, you need to create buzz.  Word of mouth on this is amazing.   When I got there, just before noon on Saturday, there were already 10 people in line about 10 minutes before the place was open.   I also saw the attached sign, asking people to line up to the left to avoid blocking the entrance to the Apartment.   I looked for the appartment, and it’s about a good 50 feet away.

Here's the sign they had in the window. Line ups are good for brand value

So clearly, all the story and mystique has created a word of mouth that is getting people to travel for this burger.   It’s 45 min from my house, and I ran into someone I knew who lives 45 minutes the other way.   Both of us just felt compelled to try it.  Keep in mind, the stories he’s created help drive word of mouth and in turn demand.   The line up makes things much more predictable for him, so the food is fresher/better tasting.   He can manage his inventories, staff accordingly and drive down his costs by driving up his volume.   Plus, I would have paid anything at this moment for the burger.   Lastly, I started to tell my friend in line that about the Five Guys burger I had which was amazing and a stranger jumped into our conversation to defend his priest, saying it’s not even close.   Already has brand advocates defending the brand.   He’s clearly working his branded business system.

As for the burger, it was ideal.   I’d say it’s a tie with Five Guys Burgers–which has a story unto itself–with celebrity endorsement like Obama and Shaquille O’Neil.   Both use the same technique of keeping the burger juicy, while ensuring it’s well done on the outside.  Very similar taste.   (More bacon on the Five Guys, and the Fries are better)  The fries at the Priest need improving to be great.    Poor Licks, a Toronto icon for many years, has been losing out the last few.  The only good thing about Licks now, is there’s never any wait and you can have a nice quiet meal (e.g. no one goes there)

For those of you looking for a great burger, I’d recommend it for sure.  For those of you looking for unique marketing and seeing how a small business is trying to drive a BELOVED BURGER, this is a great example.  Not sure if he spent six months figuring out the world’s best burger, or just six months becoming the world’s best marketer.   A great brand in the making.

Top 3 Burgers in Toronto (my view)

  1. Five Guys Burgers
  2. Burgers Priest
  3. Craft Burger (now the Big Smoke)

The Burger’s Priest

Nov 16th, 2011, Update to the Story:  Burger’s Priest opening a second location in North Toronto, on Yonge Street between York Mills and Lawrence.  Great location choice.   Talk of further expansion into the West end of Toronto, likely High Park or Bloor West Village.   Need a good income level to afford 9 dollar burgers.   It will be interesting to see how many they put into Toronto, and then into the rest of Canada.   One big fan of the Priest who I told was actually disappointed about the expansion plans..

The more beloved the brand, the more profitable and valuable the brand is.

Consumers have relationships with their brands, some simple and shallow while others are tremendously deep and personal. There is almost a LOVE CURVE the consumer goes on,  moving from INDIFFERENT to LIKING to LOVING and then on to a BRAND FOR LIFE.   At a given point, consumers stop thinking and start feeling.   It can take years or just minutes.   For Brand owners, what’s important is to know where your brand is on the curve and how to move it along to the next stage.

There are significant benefits to moving the brand along the Love Curve.   At stage 1, consumers are INDIFFERENT, your brand is basically replaceable and you only get used because “this will do”.   You’re not really anyone’s favourite.    As they move to stage 2, they LIKE it and make logical, solid functional choices.   But at stage 3, consumers  LOVE the brand, are outspoken, possessive, unrelenting, and it becomes very personal.  Along the way, people stop thinking and start feeling.   And consumers enter stage 4 where it’s their BRAND FOR LIFE, where the brand is almost an extension of the consumers themselves.  They would never use another brand because they’d almost feel like they are cheating.

Look at how we feel when we love a brand (Unrelenting, Possessive), compared to Indifferent (It will do, Basic Needs)

Apple is a great example of a modern day beloved brand.   They hate Microsoft as much as they love Mac.  Try telling a Loyal Mac user that “Windows 7 is really good” you’re certain to start a fight.   You might even lose a friend.    One of the most beloved brands is Ferrari which Italians from around the world see as a statement of their Italian culture and personal identity.  They wear the logo with pride, cheer for Ferrari each week in the F1 and yet they most likely have never driven a Ferrari.  They spend zero dollars on Advertising, relying on consumers wearing their brand, cheering for their brand or just dreaming of it.   What a place to be as a marketer where your consumers act as brand fans, and standing up for you.  Another great example to show the differences is Coffee, where Tim Horton’s is the Beloved Brand.

But what goes up, can also come down and brands can move backwards on the curve.  For instance Gap Clothing, Levis or even Olive Garden were all once loved and have slid back to indifferent.

The only true goal of brand building is profit and brand value.  Every choice you make that moves your brand along the LOVE CURVE towards being beloved helps you drive long term value into your brand.


  1. Brand is more than just positioning.  Brand serves to match up the brand’s external promise with the internal culture and operations that delivers that brand promise.   While most brands look for an external positioning, that’s the promise you make to the consumer.   It’s equally important to focus on delivering that promise with the Brand serving as a beacon for the culture and operations and helps to steer behaviour, thinking and decisions employees make to support the brand.  For many brands, the people and the culture are the “secret sauce” to that brand’s success.  It’s like an iceberg where the brand promise is the tip the consumer sees, but below is the culture that needs to be aligned to deliver that promise.
  2. It’s easier to run a branded business with a line up at the door.    Longer lines means fresher product, and that means a better customer experience.   A baquette in Paris tastes so much better, not because it’s in Paris, but because the pâtisserie in Paris  sells 300 baquettes by 10 am, all fresh out of the oven.  The poor baguette in the North American grocery store looks lonely, dry, crusty.  Also, people love to follow the crowds, figuring others have already made the decision for you.
  3. Strong Sales Growth helps The P&L Starts to Work Better:  Using Porter’s Model, strong steady sales also means you can control your variable and fixed costs.    a) More Buying Power over Suppliers: higher volume means you can go to suppliers with a big order and exert pressure on the costs  b) Power Over Customer Channels: you can begin exerting power over the sales channels to your advantage–trimming variable trade with retailers while demanding more in return including more control over pricing. c) Smarter More Efficient Management:  manage your inventories, meet customer expectations, control pricing and drive cheaper costs.  d) Growth means you start outgrowing any fixed costs.  This includes start up costs, sales force, product plants or R&D costs.  e)  Lower Cost of Capital:More certainty means lower risk and you can re-invest, knowing the ROI will be quicker and stronger.

    There are 4 profit drivers you can push through the brand: price, cost, share and market size.
  4. The Poor Competition has no chance.   Most categories play the zero sum game, where one brands’ gain is the other guys’ loss.   Leader brands that build an emotional connection back the competition into the rational zone–facing scrutiny, doubt and skepticism.   As a marketer, the more emotional heat you can generate leaves almost nothing left for your competitor.  You reach that tipping point, where your gain is their loss.  When it’s all about share gain, the beloved brand has a competitive advantage.
  5. Great Brands have a certain magic to them.  Gaining that deep Emotional connection is hard work, but also takes a certain flare or an art form.  Gather all the data, be ruthless in your decisions, always focus on ROI, and eliminate risk and you’ll be liked but never loved.  You need to use instincts, take chances, use a certain flare and believe that execution matters.  If you want your consumer to love your brand, you have to love the work you do.  Look at the love Apple projects to it’s consumers through the magic of design, branding and marketing.

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