Posts tagged Frame of Reference

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 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.

Ellish Marketing Group President & CEO, Warren Ellish to Deliver Keynote Address at Ben E. Keith Market Place Food Show

Warren Ellish, President & CEO of Ellish Marketing Group will be the keynote speaker to kick off the 13th annualBen E. Keith 2012 Market Place Food Show. The annual event will be held on Wednesday March 28th at the Albuquerque Convention Center starting at 9AM.  Warren’s keynote will be “The Three Critical Steps to Positioning Your Restaurant or Hotel Into a World-Class Brand.” One Ben E. Keith 2012 Market Place Food Show attending Operator (along with his/her management team) will have the opportunity to win a brand positioning consultation with Warren Ellish to be held later in the day. The winner will be chosen at the conclusion of Warren’s engaging keynote address.

The Food Show also features ProStart culinary competition, creating tomorrow’s foodservice leaders.

Ben E. Keith is the eighth largest major full-service institutional food service distributors in the nation, with seven branches. The Albuquerque branch, the host of this event, is the youngest of the seven branches.

For more information on the event:

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.

Franchise Direct Interview with Cornell’s Warren Ellish – as featured today in theFranchise Direct franchise blog


If you’re interested in brand positioning, you may have come across the work of Warren Ellish, a renowned practitioner/speaker on brand positioning and a faculty member at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. Mr. Ellish will be presenting his thoughts on brand positioning at the IFA Convention February 13, 2012 (a week from today) at 10:15AM, and we thought it might be a good opportunity to ask him a few questions about brand positioning as well as his thoughts on the panel he’ll be presenting at #IFA2012.

What are the most important things for start-up franchises, especially in the crowded food market, looking to position itself?

The effective development of a clearly defined brand positioning for any new franchise brand is critical to the long-term success of that brand. 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. In other words this positioning will state the reason for the brand’s existence. A well-positioned brand has the power to change perception, influence preference and command loyalty. This will generate trial for the brand, increased frequency for the brand and in turn drive sales, market share and profits.

The 3 critical elements of a brand positioning statement are “Frame of Reference”, “Market Target” and “Point of Difference”.

When defining the brands “point of difference” it is important to make sure that the point of difference is preemptive, ownable and defendable. It is also very important to not let your brand’s point of difference be a point of similarity. Many franchise companies focus on important attributes of their brand but these attributes are merely nothing more than things their brand must do well just to be in the business they are in. They must be able to define and state what it is that truly sets their brand apart, what that reason is why a customer should or will choose to do business with them and choose their brand over the many alterative choices available.

Domino’s has changed its entire public perception in recent years thanks in part to a savvy social media presence. Do you have any social media guidance for franchises?

When it comes to social media, I always hear people say, “we can’t control what people are saying about our brand”. They feel like the Internet is like the Wild West with no sheriffs. Brands, and the management team of those brands, most definitely have the power to control what is being said about them. If you clearly position your brand, you will be able to help your targeted users to remember what it is you want them to remember about your brand – – and then they in turn will communicate that message to others for you.

Additionally, I am a true believer that social media is an engagement medium. Brands have the opportunity to hear what their customers are saying about them in a real life situation and do something with that learning. Brands also have the opportunity to truly engage a current customer as well as future customers by making the social media tools part of the users life and making their life easier. This is way more than collecting ‘likes”, which I have not seen any data that truly correlates the number of likes your brand has to your sales, market share or profitability.

Using your Domino’s example: Since Domino’s wants to be recognized at the world leader in Pizza Delivery, they have developed a mobile and web based application that builds on this and allows customers to order what they want when they want it. The application also engages the customer by allowing them to track their order from the time it is placed until it heads out for delivery. It even allows the customer to engage with the employees working on their order and provide feedback to those same employees on how well they did. What they have done is to allow their customers to know what is happening with their order – – something of importance to those customers.

Is there a single thing that unites the marketing strategies of the country’s most successful franchises?

Each successful franchise brand most likely has a marketing strategy that is unique to their specific business situation. These franchise brands will understand their frame of reference – – or what business they are in, who their target market is and have a clearly defined point of difference that is meaningful to that audience within that frame of reference. The leadership of these franchisees understand and care about what their brand is, what it stands for, what it offers, and why it is different. These franchisee brands make their reason for being exclusive and unique and using their brand a true experience.

What can people at the IFA convention expect from your event?

My 90-minute presentation to the IFA is titled “The Three Critical Steps to Positioning Your Franchise Brand Into a World-Class Brand.” The session is being held on Monday February 13th at 10:15AM at the Marriott World Center in Orlando. My session is meant to be both entertaining and educational and allows for participation from those that are attending. I want every attendee to leave my session with specific new tools to help them have an immediate positive impact on their franchise brands. The presentation is filled with stories and real life case situations to bring the brand positioning learning to life. The technique that I will share is the same one I have used to successfully position hundreds of global, domestic, regional and local businesses.

I will provide a quick and easy exercise to allow each participant an opportunity to determine if his or her brand is strategically positioned and if its message is clearly being communicated?

I will clarify what positioning is, why it is important, and how to determine the optimum positioning for franchise brands and even attendees own personal brand.

Participants will learn how to craft brand positioning that will aid in getting their desired message across to the people they want to reach and make an impression that lasts.

Everyone will discover how to allow their brand to reach its full potential in the marketplace, and bring additional focus to their organization’s initiatives.

Attendees will even find out how to leverage their brands positioning to have a dramatic impact on raising funds for franchise growth.

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Is your brand strategically positioned with its message clearly communicated? Are you sure?

Warren Ellish, President and CEO of Ellish Marketing Group is featured as a guest blogger inThomas Paige International’s Leadership Insights. Five great thought leadership blogs from industry experts are highlighted.  Check out all of the blogs from  Joleen GoronkinRick Van WarnerRob GrimesTom Spry and Warren Ellish.

Check out Warren’s guest blog at:™/

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