Brand Building – The Transformation of Smoothie King
Here’s an interesting article about brand building from CEOWORLD Magazine – Transforming a Smoothie Shop into a Lifestyle Brand. In this case, lifestyle brand equates to transforming public perception of the brand into a wellness brand that is an integral part of its guests’ health and fitness journey. The article is centered around an interview with Smoothie King Franchises Inc. CEO Wan Kim. He opened the first international Smoothie King location in South Korea in 2003 after earning his MBA. Within six years, Kim opened 120 stores in South Korea and grew brand awareness to 94 percent on the peninsula. In the article, Kim talks about steering his organization’s wellness branding journey.
The Journey To A Wellness Brand
The steps that Kim pursued provide a good roadmap for building a brand that people love based on the role it plays in their lives AND that can be an engine for business growth:
Lead With Mission
Kim led with firming up Smoothie King’s mission – why the brand exists and its highest ideal that guides decisions and inspires employees. In the case of Smoothie King, their mission is to be an integral part of its guests’ health and fitness journey.
At our hybrid brand consultancy / marketing agency Trajectory, we think about the purpose of a brand mission from an outside-in perspective, i.e., as creating the customers that will drive the business forward. A brand mission should push the limits of a company, because the goal of the brand mission is to take the company (and its customers) where competitors can’t follow – leveraging all the weapons in its strategic, creative, expressive and innovative arsenal.
The brand mission itself should be short and sweet, vital and visceral. It’s a way to focus energy, action and innovation within a company, and between a company and customers. It’s the shared pulse that carries everyone forward. We’ve developed or refined many of our health and wellness client’s mission statements over the years. One client example being here.
Better Understand Customers
To build a winning brand today, you have to start with your customer and the problem you are solving for them. Smoothie King invested time and effort as a brand to better understand its guests and to ensure that it could be a part of their health and wellness journey. By doing this, the needs of their customers and the challenges Smoothie King solve ultimately become two sides of the same coin.
Customer feedback, coupled with the misconception of smoothies being a seasonal beverage, revealed that Smoothie King needed to reframe the conversation around who they are, the purpose of their products, and how they differentiate themselves from other quick-service and smoothie brands.
Creating smoothies that help people reach their health and fitness goals had always been Smoothie King’s DNA, so their solution was to become hyper-focused on one element: to inspire people to live a healthy and active lifestyle.
Understand Your Why
In the words of management consultant Simon Sinek — people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Similarly, CEO Wan Kim states that “more important than what we do, we want to make it clear to our guests why we’re doing it.” Leading with mission motivated the team to establish a purposeful and authentic lifestyle brand, where every decision was on behalf of the mission.
Drive With A Unifying Brand Idea
In 2019, Smoothie King incorporated Rule The Day™ to further convey to its guests why and how they intend to play an integral role in their healthy and active lifestyles. Their goal with Rule The Day™ was to get back to the Smoothie King roots of centering every menu item around delicious and healthy options that fit guest’s purposes and represents their character, ranging anywhere from pre or post-workout fuel to enjoying a healthy treat.
At Trajectory, we refer to this idea as a brand’s big energizing idea. This big idea (in that it transcends category boundaries) serves as the destination that the brand wants to reach to fulfill its destiny. And it does this by energizing the brand’s inside and outside audiences to reach their personal potential. The idea is a north star for the brand to look, speak and act as one. And the more unified the brand, the more powerful it can be in leaving its mark.
Tell And Deliver Your Brand Story
Every great business is built on a great brand, and every great brand is built on a great story. Smoothie King puts their brand story front and center.
Across categories, great organizations know the story of their brand. They also know that beyond driving marketing campaigns, story is the engine that unites inside and out, creates emotional ties with customers and provides a lens for future vision. Ultimately, every interaction should be an opportunity to communicate and advance a company’s story.
Thriving Amidst The Pandemic
A major advantage to Smoothie King was their foundational wellness messaging which they had been communicating for years. With health and wellness powered by the desire for resiliency and immunity in the midst of a pandemic – Smoothie King had the opportunity to take on new relevancy.
Along with strong communication and innovative measures to continue to serve customers, Smoothie King had a record-breaking 3rd qtr. 2020 for store openings and ended 2020 positive in same-store sales. More recently, they announced 18% same-store sales growth for 1st qtr. 2021.
Brand-driven thinking and marketing over nearly the last ten years has been a huge success that helped Smoothie King overcome historical seasonal roadblocks, both in terms of sales and store openings. The total store count has more than doubled in size and Smoothie King has seen roughly a 4% compounded annual growth rate in same store sales since 2012, while continuing to grow each month.
Once again, you can find the full article here.
Since 1999, our hybrid brand consultancy / marketing agency has partnered with health and wellness clients to unlock the potential for their brands to leave their mark on business, consumers and the world. Every day, we work with organizations to pursue this single purpose. Reach out for a no-obligation consultation.