b. good to your brand
Almost ten years ago I was sitting in a Starbucks pretending to read something when, in my devastatingly charming way, I inserted myself into a conversation taking place next to me. The man at the undersized table to my right was having a frustrating phone conversation about a hotel snafu that left him with a smoking room– something that was sure to make his wife very, very unhappy.
I actually don’t know whether the snafu un-snafu’d, fortunately I can ask the man myself. The man was John Pepper and at the time he owned a handful of burrito-esque places called “The Wrap.” I was a Wrap fanatic and meeting John was the most awesome thing that happened to me that week. Ten years later, I’m continually tickled by the impact that chance meeting has had on my life here in Boston.
The Wrap eventually became the Boston Burrito Kingdom we know as Boloco. The brand has been tweaked and tightened over the years and grown like crazy, but for me, it still reflects so much of the guy I met at Starbucks. It’s a brand that has human qualities and human vulnerability. It’s not in it’s infancy, but it’s also a long way from being all grown up. It’s willing to try new things– come what may– and listen to what people have to say. More than anything, Boloco has a heart and a head. You can’t go wrong with that combination driving you.
It was through John that I was introduced to b. good and the good guys behind my favorite fast-but-not-fastish food burger place in town. Much like Mr. Pepper and Boloco, I’ve followed Jon Olinto and Anthony Ackil the b. good brand from the beginning. As a brand gal, it’s a selfish indulgence. So many client’s try to buy their way to a brand so natural and organic in its growth. But that’s the thing about marketing in this new day in age, you can’t buy it. You either have to find it or you have to change.
Say what? Yes. You have to change. Because if your product, or the story behind that product isn’t telling a compelling story, no amount of polish and lipstick is going to change that. The best, brightest, and most successful brands on the whole planet share a something very special: the product is the marketing. I’ll say it again and use bold: the product is the marketing.
Branding is story telling. There are parts of the story that we prioritize, and as marketing geniuses we can uncover the story and write it a little better, but we can’t make it up. Brands like b. good and Boloco have achieved incredible success on the back of very little marketing because their products tell a story that are true to their capabilities and culture, relevant and motivating to the customers they serve, and distinct from their competition– naturally. The product story speaks for itself.
Often times the hardest problems to solve are the ones with a simple answer: make sure the product is serving the customer first, not you. There is always a story in that.
Brand transparency has its advantages. In the age of social media, there’s no fear of the unknown when everything is already… known. For these guys, it’s meant being able to leverage social media to build relationships with customers one-on-one through Twitter and Facebook. (You can follow b. good @b_good_ and Boloco @boloco.) It’s also given them an avenue for collecting tons of great user-generated content, holding spur of the moment contest, and leveraging moment-moment marketing tactics like free fries on a rainy day. Now if that’s not a reason to get on Twitter RIGHT THIS SECOND then I have no idea what is. Truly. At a loss.)
If you haven’t visited a b. good location, you have a recommendation from me. Whether it’s the baked fries– sweet potato or regular– that win your heart, or the photos of their farmers and suppliers that adorn the walls, take a second to soak it all up. For a couple of guys with an idea, it’s one of the most consistent brand experiences you’ll find. Sign up to become a member of the b. good family and you’ll get newsletters that confirm what you’ve already begun to suspect, it might all be very genuine.
And despite your skeptical New England existence, you may believe it.
(And by all means, get thee to Boloco too. And then tweet at ‘em. They love hearing about your burrito. Or at least they humor me.)