- In a Zion & Zion study ranking 26 major QSR chains on brand personality, Chick-fil-A ranked the highest on sincerity, excitement and competence. The study also tested for two additional personality dimensions: sophistication and ruggedness.
- Chick-fil-A also ranked second in sophistication.
- Sonic Drive-In received high marks in sincerity and excitement (third place) and competence (fourth place). Dairy Queen also made impressive marks in sincerity (second place), excitement (seventh place), competence (sixth place) and sophistication (fourth place). Papa John's, Burger King and Jack in the Box were ranked very low across all dimensions.
The competition for customer loyalty is stiffer than ever in the fast food space, and many brands are turning to TV campaigns and social media engagement to stand out, and for good reason. Nearly half of diners have tried a restaurant strictly because of its social media marketing efforts.
Brands are looking for any new and exciting way to differentiate themselves and cultivating a unique brand personality is top of the list. Social media is a savvy tool for achieving this goal, and consumers are a hungry audience that savor snarky humor, as evidenced by Wendy's rise to Twitter fame thanks to its now-standard stream of witty, playful engagements with consumers and other brands online.
But brand personality is built on more than just digital initiatives. Chick-fil-A, for example, has a die-hard cult following that reveres the brand for its customer service, upbeat servers and willingness to listen to customer demands. It even boasts the most satisfied customers according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
Sonic and Dairy Queen landing close behind Chick-fil-A is also a testament to non-digital promotions, considering the brands' frequent new product offerings. Excitement is an important factor to cultivating a successful brand identity, and LTOs and frequent menu updates are one way to keep consumers coming back, despite the ever-increasing wealth of food options in today's restaurant space.
Brand sincerity is something that all QSRs should take into consideration when looking at their marketing efforts, according to the survey. An insincere image could turn off first-time diners and undermine the loyalty of existing customers. Social media marketing, which offers retailers a new way to reach out directly to their demographic, can be used to create a sincere image through responding to comments and addressing concerns. But a poorly managed social media presence or a lack of happy employees could leave diners with a bad taste in their mouths. Papa John's, Jack in the Box and Burger King received low marks for sincerity.
Consumers expect more from brands today than ever have before, as they seek an overall experience from their dining adventures instead of just a good meal. Restaurants are rapidly exploring ways to keep consumers satisfied and it's less about the menu items and more about keeping offerings fresh and interesting. McDonald's recently purchased a tech company that will help it improve its drive-thru experience by offering customers more customized, real-time interactions, for example, and POS software company Toast offers a tool to help restaurants cater specifically to each table's needs. As demand for personalized experience grows, it seems likely that additional brands will make similar investments to keep their restaurant top of mind.