Posts tagged Cornell University Johnson School

Your Restaruant As a Brand: Interview on Branding and Brand Positioning with Warren Ellish on Foodservice Radio, the new streaming 24-hour internet radio station programmed for restaurant and food service operators launched at the National Restaurant Show.

Creating a brand around your restaurant has many benefits. A clear, concise brand statement can drive marketing, development and even operational activities. In a Foodservice Radio interview, Warren Ellish, Senior Lecturer at Cornell University and CEO of Ellish Marketing Group talks about how you can turn your restaurant – large or small – into a world class brand.

To listen to the complete interview visit Food Service Radio or at iTunes.

Excerpts from the interview:

There are many misconceptions about branding among food service operators. “Most people think of a brand as mark,” says Ellish. “It is not a mark, a brand leaves a mark. What is really interesting is that restaurant customers don’t really care about a brand name, logo or tag line. What they really care about is who your brand is, what it stands for, what your brand offers, and very importantly, why your brand is different.”

“Brand positioning is the way anyone wants the consumer to think about their product or service relative to competing brands,” Ellish adds. “It is the most basic of all strategic statements. It provide the blueprint for all the marketing and development of any brand and it focuses the efforts of all those involved in brand activities. It states the reason for a brand’s existence.”

There are “three questions that will help people easily determine if their brand is strategically positioned and if their message is being clearly communicated,” says Ellish. “They are ‘What business is your brand in; what is the target market for your brand; and what is the point of difference for your brand?’”

Ellish suggests putting the answers to those questions together into a simple brand positioning statement, “To (your market target), (your brand) is the brand of (your competitive set) that offers (your point of difference).”

This exercise often points out the weaknesses in the current brand positioning. “What’s really interesting is when I do this exercise, whether it is with a small entrepreneurial group or a very large corporate environment, you find significant inconsistencies in the answers. Most members of the team list points of similarity and not points of difference,” says Ellish. “Make sure your reason for being is exclusive and unique, and make sure using your brand becomes a true experience for your guests.”

Defining your brand positioning also helps with social media. It helps your customers remember exactly what you want them to know about your brand. Those customers will in turn communicate that message to others.

When it comes to branding, “The little guy has as much opportunity as the big guy,” Ellish concludes. “All they have to do is make sure they go through and position their brand and make sure that have a preemptive, ownable and defendable point of difference. If they don’t, then there is no reason for anyone to become a loyal follower and an advocate of their brand.”

For more information or to contact Mr. Ellish, visit or call 303-762-0360.

Don’t Let A Point Of Similarity Become Your Point Of Difference

Successfully identifying and securing a powerful brand positioning is of critical importance to every brand. It is helpful to anyone who wants to influence other people. Whether you are promoting a product, a service, a cause, a candidate, an organization, an institution or even yourself and your own career. Positioning will aid in getting your desired message across to the people you want to reach and make an impression that lasts.

One of the critical steps in developing a powerful brand positioning is to identify your brands point of difference – – the specific consumer benefit which you want consumers to associate most readily with your product or service. What does your brand do that no one else’s brand does as well and that your target cares about?

When defining your brands point of difference, don’t let a point of similarity become your point of difference. So often I see this. 

When speaking recently to industry audiences on branding and brand positioning (National Restaurant Association Show, International Franchise Association National Convention and Entrepreneurs’ Organization Global Leadership Conference) or to the executive teams of clients, I ask three short questions: How many of your grew up wanting to be average? Or just like everyone else? Or of good quality? Rarely do I see any hands or much of a positive response. However, many brand leaders are perfectly OK about making their brands just like this – – average, just like everyone else and good.

Many of the items that are an integral part of your product/service but are not preemptive, ownable and defendable become points of entry into your competitive set and are nothing more than points of similarity. Yes, they are all important to your product or service and in many cases you must deliver on these flawlessly just to be in business. But this is not what sets you apart, not a reason a customer should or will choose to use your brand over competitor brands, and most definitely this is not a reason for them to ever become a brand advocate.

For more information on how to quickly and affordably position and brand your business to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace, visit, or reach Warren directly at 303-762-0360 or moc.gnitekramhsillenull@hsille.nerraw.

Cornell Johnson Senior Lecturer Provides Branding Expertise to Attendees of Annual National Restaurant Association Show

Warren Ellish explores “the three critical steps” of brand positioning with restaurant industry conference attendees today, at the 2012 National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show. Cornell University’s Johnson Senior Lecturer of Marketing, Warren Ellish, President and CEO of the Ellish Marketing Group, presented a 90-minute session on brand positioning to restaurateurs, entrepreneurs, franchisees, and culinary professionals, among other restaurant industry conference attendees.

An expert on brand positioning, Ellish, ‘77, MBA ‘78, has more than 30 years of client and consulting experience. His his talk, “Three Steps to Positioning Your Restaurant into a World-Class Brand,” detailed the importance of positioning a brand through “points of difference” and aligning all other brand aspects behind its positioning.

As the National Restaurant Association forecasts a record-high $600 billion in sales for 2012, restaurants are increasingly seeking to leverage increased growth and augment their brands.

During his sold-out presentation, Ellish explained the elements of a positioning statement—a brief description of what a business does and how it does it differently and better than its competitors. He encouraged audience members to apply this to their own restaurants or businesses and to reflect on what their unique differentiators may be.

Part of Ellish’s educational session also included a simple test to help participants determine if their brands are strategically positioned and how they can analyze the results to strengthen their brands.

“Without a concise brand positioning statement with a competitive ‘point of difference’ and complete management alignment behind that positioning, it will be difficult to communicate a clear and meaningful message about your brand,” Ellish noted in a branding document provided to session attendees.

Illuminating key brand positioning opportunities for attendees, Ellish drew on his own restaurant and packaged goods marketing experience. Ellish was a founding partner and VP of Marketing for Boston Chicken, where he was a member of the core start-up executive team and led the brand through its conversion to Boston Market.

Ellish brings his experience to the MBA classroom at S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, teaching in the Strategic Marketing Immersion program and product management class. He founded and hosts the Marketing Executive One-On-One Coaching Program, now in its fifth year. At this annual event, top-level marketing executives spend two days at Johnson, meeting with and coaching MBA students preparing for careers in marketing.

Marketing Your Local Business: Make Sure Potential Customers Can Find You On-line

It is so common today to see local businesses of all types focusing on social media and generating “likes” for their business on their Facebook page, followers for their business on LinkedIn or Twitter and forgetting all about optimizing their primary on-line vehicle, their website. And when they do think about their website, they are worrying about what the website looks like and not on how it performs.

If you have a local business and are trying to generate new customers, patients or guests, it will be difficult to do so if they don’t know you exist, know little or nothing about you, have no idea where you are located or how they might do business with you.

Building a properly developed website is of critical importance to establishing an on-line presence and should be your primary area of focus.

Here are 12 tips on developing a website that performs — where you will be on the first page of relevant searches and in many cases at the top of the pages.

1. Set objectives for what you want your website to accomplish

While it is important how your website looks, it is even more important how it works. I hope the objective is not to “look cool” (or something like that), but rather to allow people looking for your type of goods or services to easily find you and learn something about your business and how you can help them.

2. Develop a strategy for your message

Your communication strategy should link directly to your brand positioning. Your target audience should be able to relate easily to your website and understand what business you are in and what your point of difference from your competition is. You must also identify what specific web pages are appropriate and needed to implement your strategy.

3. Start with a powerful domain name for your type of business and geographic location (and it is not usually the name of your business)

Select a domain name that combines the business you are in, your geographical area and an adjective that people would use when conducting their search. For example, if you were a dentist in New York or an Italian restaurant in Alpharetta, effective domain names might be and

4. Use a design platform that is not proprietary to the company that builds your website

You want the freedom to be able to move your site hosting and development wherever and whenever you desire, and you should be able to make simple updates and enhancements to your site by yourself. WordPress is a great free platform to consider.

5. Build the website around Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Define search terms (combinations of words) that you think someone looking for your business would type into his or her search browser. Then develop unique META (title, description and keywords) for each page of the site. Make sure to follow a strict character count for each; too many will negatively affect your search results.

6. Integrate Social Media into your website

Design Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, and a blog into your site when applicable and when it fits comfortably. Remember that if you integrate with a social source, you need to have a presence on a regular basis to be relevant. And make sure your employees are aware of and engaged with your social efforts.

7. Build your website to be mobile and tablet friendly (across platforms)

Make sure people can use your site no matter where and how they link to the Internet.

8. Generate online reviews and link them to your website

Ask current customers, patients and guests to write reviews for your business. Postings to Google Places and other local review sites will boost your search ranking. Offer easy links to these different review sites within your own website and boost your ranking even further.

9. Establish yourself with Google Places

Make sure you sign your business up with Google Places (which will become linked to your site).

10. Optimize before going live and posting your website

Don’t trust a company developing your site that tells you once the site “looks good” to go live and post your site and then they will work on content, META, SEO optimization etc. Optimize everything before going live.

11. Keep your website current

Once you launch your site, your work is not over. Good sites that rank high constantly enhance their content and coding.

12. Track and learn from your website

Be sure to use some form of analytics tracking built into each page of your site. Google Analytics is a great free option. If you have a business that generates call inquiries or requires reservations or appointments, utilize a unique phone tracking number on your website that will allow you to track responses accurately. You can even have the calls, forwarded from this unique tracking number, recorded for training purposes.

For more information on how to quickly and affordably market your local business to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace, visit, or reach Warren directly at 303-762-0360 or moc.gnitekramhsillenull@hsille.nerraw.

Warren Ellish to Address 2012 National Restaurant Show

Attendees at the 2012 National Restaurant Show in Chicago will have the opportunity to hear Warren Ellish, President and CEO of Ellish Marketing Group and Senior Lecturer at Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management present “The Three Critical Steps to Positioning Your Brand Into a World Class Brand” on Monday afternoon May 7th at 2PM in room S403A of McCormick Center. Warren will be following David Novack, Chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands, talking on “Taking People with You”.

Mr. Ellish is a well-respected lecturer, speaker and expert on the topic of brand positioning and restaurant marketing, has held executive positions with Boston Market, Darden Restaurants, Burger King and PepsiCo, and has been responsible for the positioning for hundreds of well-known international, domestic, regional and local restaurant and franchise brands. He will share his winning approach in this engaging session, illustrate what positioning is, why it is important and how to determine the optimum brand positioning for your restaurant brand using real-life cases.  You will leave with tools to immediately bring additional focus to your organization’s initiatives and allow you to strategically communicate your brand’s message, making an impression that lasts.

For a complete schedule of featured NRA show speakers, visit 

To register for the NRA show visit

Warren Ellish 2012 Center for Hospitality Research Brand Mangement Roundtable Participant

The 2012 Cornell Brand Management Roundtable presented by the Cornell Hotel School Center for Hospitality Research, sponsored by Hilton Worldwide and lead by Professor Chekitan Dev, is by invitation only, and took place on Monday, April 2nd, and Tuesday, April 3rd, on the Cornell University campus.

Af few of the featured topics and session provocateurs included: Brand Champions-Insights from the Best Global Brands (Jezz Frampton, Group CEO Interbrand);  Brand Innovation-New Brand Development (Christian Hempell, VP New Business Development and Delivery, IHG); and Digital Branding-Social+Search+Mobile (Jezz Frampton, Group CEO Interbrand).

The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) roundtables provide an opportunity for a small number (approximately 25) of invited senior-level executives and educators, Cornell faculty members, and scholars affiliated with CHR to share experiences and exchange ideas. Roundtable events are divided into several focused sessions. Each session typically begins with a short presentation or guiding question offered by the moderator. After initial remarks, the conversation is then open for lively discussion. Given the relatively small number of attendees, all participants have ample opportunity to ask questions and express their views. Cornell School of Hotel Administration faculty members and students often observe the roundtable discussions and interact with the invited attendees during session breaks.

Warren Ellish Delivers Keynote Address to Open 13th Annual Ben E. Keith Market Place Food Show

The 2012 Ben E. Keith Market Place Food Show drew the largest crowd for a keynote address in the company’s history. Keynote speaker, Warren Ellish, provided the attending restaurant and hotel operators with new tools to have an immediate impact on building their local businesses into world class brands.

Garcia’s Kitchen, a Albuquerque tradition since 1975 with seven area locations, was the winner of the keynote door prize. The Garcia family and members of the management team received an afternoon of branding and marketing consulting with the keynote speaker, Warren Ellish, President and CEO of Ellish Marketing Group  and Senior Lecturer at Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.

The 2012 New Mexico ProStart competition, in conjunction with the New Mexico Restaurant Association, also took place at the Market Place Food show. The competition attracts top high school students from around New Mexico who are enrolled in the ProStart Program at their schools. These students have proven their skill and commitment to the hospitality industry through vigorous coursework and on-the-job training. First place teams move on to compete at the National ProStart Invitational. The teams did a great job showcasing their talents.

Warren Ellish on Maximizing the Franchise Brand

Featured interview today in Blue MauMau by Ed Teixeira the founder and owner ofFranchiseKnowHow.

A brand expert speaks with Blue MauMau at the International Franchise Association’s annual conference on how a brand can be lifted. F. Warren Ellish, president and CEO ofEllish Marketing Group and Senior Lecturer at Cornell University Johnson Graduate School of Management, conducted a workshop on the “Three Critical Steps to Positioning Your Franchise into a World-Class Brand” at this week’s International Franchise Association annual gathering in Orlando.

Based out of Denver, Mr. Ellish has a long history in the franchise industry, including being a member of the core start-up executive team at Boston Chicken (now Boston Market). He has held key marketing positions at Red Lobster and Burger King and has consulted for a long list of start-up, emerging and turnaround restaurant and franchise brands. He was also a key marketer with PepsiCo in their Frito-Lay Division and with Johnson & Johnson in their Baby Products Division.

BMM: How can franchisors and franchisees maximize their brand image?

Summary: Franchisors need to work hand in hand with their franchisee advisory boards in developing a clearly defined brand positioning statement for their brand.

Ellish: When I consult with franchisors, I want to engage the entire executive team and the franchisee advisory board members in everything we do from a brand strategy standpoint. And this starts with developing the brand’s positioning statement. It’s important for the group to co-write brand positioning and then endorse the strategy and programs that are the end result of that brand positioning. If only one group is involved in the process, the potential to fully maximize the franchise brand’s potential in the marketplace is minimized. Since the franchisees are closest to the customers, they need to be a part of the brand positioning process. Franchisor CEO’s that I have worked with who have utilized this approach have seen it work very successfully. For it to work, the franchisee advisory board members must pledge their support to endorse and move forward with the work that the group jointly develops and agrees to, even if as individuals they are not in total agreement. Complete franchisor and franchisee alignment is key to successfully implementing marketing strategy and programs.

BMM: Is there a particular process you follow when working to maximize a franchise brand’s potential?

Summary: When it comes to the franchise brand, every member of the organization on both the franchisor and franchisee side has to deliver the same message.

Ellish: It’s important that each company develop and then deliver a clearly defined brand positioning statement with complete management alignment behind that positioning. I like to ask three short and simple questions before starting the brand positioning process with a franchise organization to help determine if their franchise brand is strategically positioned and if its message is being clearly communicated. I ask each member of the senior management franchisor team and the participating franchise advisory board the following three questions.

  1. What business are you in?
  2. What is the target market for your brand, or said differently, what is the audience or group you are trying to persuade to use your product or service?
  3. What is the point of difference for your brand? List no more than three differences.

An important aspect of number three is to establish what sets the brand apart from others in the frame of reference or business that they are in. This involves establishing a point of difference that is:

  • Pre-emptive
  • Ownable
  • Defendable

A franchise brand wants to make sure its points of difference are not points of similarity to the competition or simply points of entry in a business, which I so often see.

BMM: What do you learn when you ask these questions?

Summary: I typically see significant inconsistencies in the answers to most if not all of the three questions as well as points of difference that are nothing more than points of similarity to everyone else that they are competing with.

Ellish: This is not an unusual result for most companies. If the core management team and the franchise advisory board members have such differences in their answers to these core brand questions, can you imagine how difficult it will be to communicate a clear and meaningful message about your brand to your employees and in turn to your customers? As the message moves through the organization, so much gets lost in the translation. It is important that everyone in a franchise organization fully understands and recites the same message.

BMM: Quite often the subject of social media comes up as a possible point of conflict between franchisors and their franchisees. Any advice on this subject?

Summary: The franchisor needs to establish their social media policy rather than wait for a problem to arise.

Ellish: First of all, franchisors have to define the social media strategy for their brand. Within this overall strategy, the role of the franchisor and the franchisee, pertaining to social media, needs to be communicated up front. Some franchisors wait too long to take control of social media, so the franchisees take the lead and you end up with a non-cohesive social media effort. Only after a problem arises do some franchisors jump in. It’s important for the franchisor to remain in control of the brand website and all other social portals such as the Facebook page. In addition, it would be wise for franchisors to provide their franchisees some training in this area. Without this direction, franchisees can’t be expected to understand what they can and can’t do and what the responsibility of the franchisor is.

BMM: What about franchisees who want to personalize the franchise website?

Summary: Franchisors need to control on-line and social media communication in order to send a consistent message for the brand.

Ellish: It is very important that a brand maintains a consistent message in all public places. This includes the brand’s website and social media pages such as Facebook. A good way to do this is to create a location-specific webpage that is built from a brand template but that has unique information for each specific location. This page can be accessed via a location subpage of the brand’s overall site and can also be used for local search with sites like Google Places and Google Maps for localized GPS enabled searches. I suggest using a controlled set of photos and descriptive copy, but each location specific page can have underlying unique local descriptors (which are picked up in search) for each photo. All of this will allow for local uniqueness without losing brand control. This process can be done in batch processing and there are some great franchise service providers who can help with this.

BMM: Once the branding strategy is implemented, what can the franchisor do to achieve success?

Summary: Franchise organizations need alignment not only between franchisor and franchisee, but also between marketing and operations.

Ellish: Successful marketing is the result of close cooperation between the marketing and the operations teams. The marketing team is responsible for the first 50% of the process with the operations team responsible for the second 50%. Let me explain. The marketing team develops and implements messaging and programs to generate awareness and trial for the brand based on leveraging the brand’s point of difference. The object, of course, is to reach a specific audience, driving potential customers to visit or use the brand’s product or service. It is then operation’s job to deliver a flawless experience, consistent with the brand promise, to the customer. When marketing and operations work together in this way, the result will be repeat customers, positive word-of-mouth recommendations and business success.

Check out the complete interview at

Branding and Brand Positioning Expert Addresses 52nd Annual International Franchise Association Convention

F. Warren Ellish, President and CEO of Ellish Marketing Group and Senior Lecturer at Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management today addressed the leaders of the world’s most important franchisors, franchisees and suppliers to the franchise community. Ellish, a popular marketing speaker as well as a respected franchise and restaurant marketing consultant, spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at his session on brand positioning and “The Three Critical Steps to Positioning Your Franchise Into a World-Class Brand.” The thought provoking and entertaining 90-minute session provided the franchise leaders with specific tools to help them build better local businesses one opportunity at a time as well as help them build better brands. These tools will have an immediate impact on their businesses and their personal careers.

Cornell Johnson School Senior Lecturer Brings Brand Positioning Expertise to Franchise Companies

Warren Ellish will deliver “the three critical steps” of brand positioning at International Franchise Association annual convention

Johnson visiting senior lecturer of Marketing, Warren Ellish, President and CEO of theEllish Marketing Group, on February 13 will deliver a 90-minute session on brand positioning at the annual convention of the International Franchise Association (IFA) in Orlando, Florida. The IFA is the world’s oldest and largest organization representing franchising worldwide. Its mission is to protect, enhance and promote franchising through government relations, public relations and educational programs.

Ellish, ’77 , MBA ’78, is a senior marketing executive, with more than 30 years of client and consulting experience. He is an expert on brand positioning, and shares his wealth of ideas in his IFA talk, titled “Three Critical Steps to Positioning Your Franchise into a World-Class Brand.” In his presentation, Ellish offers franchising executives a quick and easy test to see if their brands are strategically positioned and communicating their messages clearly; the key elements of a positioning statement; statement template to capture a brand’s positioning and a dozen case studies.

Ellish brings his experience to the MBA classroom at Johnson, teaching in the Strategic Marketing Immersion program and product management class. He founded and hosts the Marketing Executive One-on-One Coaching Program, now in its fifth year. At this annual event, top-level marketing executives spend two days at Johnson, meeting with and coaching MBA students preparing for careers in marketing.

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