Despite a heavy travel schedule over the past 15 years, last week was my first trip to Philadelphia. While there, I asked some of the locals I met the best place to experience an authentic Philly Cheese Steak. Of course, I received plenty of opinions but went with the most common suggestion – Geno’s Steaks. So on a Saturday afternoon, I found my way to Geno’s. Not only did I have an awesome experience, I learned six more lessons about branding from Geno’s.
- Keep it simple – Cash only. Simple menu. No inside seating. Brands tend to way over-complicate things. To paraphrase Steve Jobs: sometimes the consumer just needs to be told what to buy.
- Stand out visually – There is zero doubt when you find Geno’s. Bright signs. Name on all street-facing sides of the building. Everything painted Geno’s “orange”. All employees in Geno’s gear.
- Create a line – The massive line out front also told you that you’d find Geno’s – and that it was worth the wait. Ordering from a single window wasn’t the most efficient for Geno’s or the customers – but it created a massive line of people publicly stating their willingess to wait for something different.
- Have secret codes – In addition to the recommendation for Geno’s, I was instructed in great detail about how to order. My friend Kevin had taken me step by step through the process of how to order and what to say. As I approached the window (20 minutes after I got in line), I simply said “Provolone with” and handed the lady a $10 bill. I then watched the guy after me ask a bunch of questions and generally look like a tourist.
- Don’t afraid to be polarizing – At the order window is a sign that says “You are in America. Order in English”. Being different (and controversial) forces polarization. Polarization gives you a clear audience to attract.
- Stay true to your roots – As this was my first Philly Cheese Steak experience, I don’t know if it was better than other cheese steaks in the area. But I believed that Geno’s believes it is. You can feel the pride and conviction for their brand.
A brand is a meaningful, relevant presence in the marketplace. 100% for Geno’s
Branding is the authentic amplification of what makes you awesome. 100% for Geno’s.
It’s not a brand if it doesn’t create stories, emotion and memories. 100% for Geno’s.