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Dare to get gutsy with your brand

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Centerpiece,Leaders & Managers

brandIn 2010, Jim Andrews launched a hot dog stand in Chicago. Realizing he needed to differentiate his business from all the other fast-food vendors in the city, he came up with an unforgettable idea.

Eager to provide jobs for ex-convicts coming out of jail, Andrews vowed to hire as many of them as possible. He also decided to publicize his unusual staffing philosophy—and make it a central part of his brand.

Andrews called his eatery Felony Franks. And his tagline became, “Food so good, it’s criminal.”

But he didn’t stop there. Menu items underscored the mission of the business with offerings such as “Misdemeanor Wieners,” “Felony Fries” and “The Shakedown” (milkshakes).

On the website for Felony Franks, Andrews proclaims that his business is “well known for being the restaurant that hires people who have been in prison.”

The unique business model has attracted positive media attention and customers who admire the mission. Andrews and his son, Deno, hope to expand the restaurant into a regional chain and perhaps a national franchise.

Inspiring interviews with ex-offenders who work behind the counter at Felony Franks shine a spotlight on the enterprise. One of them told the Chicago Tribune, “I’ve been given a second chance. I’m very blessed.”

Like Andrews, seek distinctive ways to set your business apart. If you lead a team within a large organization, give it an identity that brings everyone together in pursuit of a common cause. Choose a nickname for your work unit, select a catchy motto and create a cartoon mascot or other visual that reflects your team’s character.

— Adapted from Pricing Done Right, Tim J. Smith, Bloomberg Press.

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