Monday, June 15, 2009

Sending mixed messages about your brand

The other day I was talking to one of the mom's at Elli's school. She asked what we were doing that evening, I told her we were going out for Chinese at Harmony. She asked if it was good and I enthusiastically said, "Yes! I love their signature beef dish, their calamari, green beans, and dumplings especially."  She replied, "Oh, I thought it was a dim sum place. I'm not a huge fan of dim sum so we've never been." I then told her they have a regular menu, plus a separate dim sum menu.

Then it got me thinking.... I don't think of them as a dim sum place at all.  I think of them as a Chinese Restaurant that also has a dim sum menu.  Mainly because they give you the regular menu first then say "We also have dim sum. Here's the menu."  It's an "also have..." type thing to me.

I can see why she's confused, but they are so much more than dim sum. I wonder if other people think the same thing? The restaurant is relatively new. It was started by a chef that worked at a very famous dim sum place here in San Francisco called Yank Sing. And, they had a banner hanging from the roof for a while that said something about dim sum. On their website they describe their food style as "classical and innovative Cantonese fair with it's specialty - freshly hand crafted dim sum."

So maybe they want to be known as a dim sum place.  That's not how I think of them, but now I'm a little confused too.

We run into this branding-type problem all the time with our advertising clients. Determining the right brand message is really tricky. Talking to customers is a good way to find out what people think about your product. So since I really like Harmony, and want them to be successful, I think I'll send the owner an email telling him that there seems to be a bit of brand confusion out there. "Why?" you ask. Because I know how hard it is to run a small business. And I hope someone would do the same for me.

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