This article first featured in M&C Report
In the past few years many of the mass market casual dining brands have increasingly crossed over in their offer. In an attempt to move away from the centre ground many of operators are driving hard to create a more distinct brand and sticking to their roots. Once redefined, a brand needs to express this new tone of voice to ensure it gains traction. With the constraints of time and workload it seems that many have abandoned blogs for Twitter and other social channels. As any of you that follow me will know, I love Twitter, but to me it doesn’t replace the blog. Longer form blogs posts provide an opportunity to share a full story in a distinct tone of voice which can be linked out from other social channels.
The brands we work with that are developing engaging blog content are seeing some very real return on investment with considerable web hits, many visitors are being tracked through the site to view more commercial content and ultimately converting to online reservations.
If you’re reading this feeling that you fall into the category of hosting an abandoned blog, here’s some inspiration for brands that are doing interesting things:
A real stand out in this month’s research, Dishoom’s ‘Journal’ is not only superbly designed but is amazingly engaging in its writing style too. Reading some of the articles in a busy office on a Friday afternoon, it was a happy distraction to be transported to India through words. Much more than just a good read, the blogs really sets the scene for a brand that truly understands its DNA, creating a story that really makes you want to go and experience for yourself. The backstories to dishes shared were particularly impressive. The only room for improvement would be to increase frequency. See the blog
A brand I’ve mentioned before and am sure to again, the Wahaca blog is extremely active – very much mirroring their overall approach to engaging with their customers. Looking back over the past years posts and you soon understand how active the brand is in anything that can be remotely considered their space; local charity work, tequila festivals, street art and culinary road-trips, to name but a few. I was particularly impressed by their ‘Spoon Amnesty’ offering a free plate of tacos to anyone returning one of the 4,000+ spoons ‘borrowed’ from their restaurants each year.
See the blog
Since launching in Milton Keynes last year, this growing Indochinese restaurant group has become a firm favourite of mine. Heading online, the brand have done a great job in defining their key content themes; food, travel, fun, news and charity. Regularly updated, the content is generally light hearted and an easy read. A particular highlight is reading how the company has partnered with an Orang-utan Appeal, with regular updates to their progress here – linking very neatly into their brand. The travel stories feel very personal which also adds a real authenticity to the brand. See the blog
Yummy Pub Company
Leaving my favourite to last – while the design of the Yummy Pub Company blog might not be anything to write home about, the content is. Cleverly written by co-founder and ‘Head of Being Awesome’, Tim Foster (who boasts having the coolest title in the world) the content is quirky, fun and at times roll on the floor hilarious. Managing at times to go beyond pure comedy gold, the blog does tell the story of the business, its growth and undoubtedly gives you the feeling that this is a business that you’d really want to support – if not work for. It’s particularly cool reading about the happenings of their non-executive director, Tim’s son – who started school last year. See the blog
Written by: James Hacon, Managing Director