Chipotle- The Superstars of Branding

Posted by Allan Steinmetz on 23 January 2014

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Branding is one of the most important foundations for building a successful company.  It allows your company to properly communicate its goals and objectives to its clientele, overall establishing an identity.  A strong and successful brand can ultimately build customer loyalty for your company.  Devising and implementing a branding strategy is one of the hardest things to successfully tackle.  Many companies have tried to develop a positive identity and brand for their company but have missed the mark.  One company that has proven time and time again to be extremely successful in building a strong brand is the Mexican fast-food restaurant, Chipotle.

I am going to let everyone know right now that I love Chipotle!  I am the epitome of a loyal Chipotle customer.  I have nothing against any of its competitors; I simply prefer Chipotle…and that has to do with their extremely strategic branding plan. 

If someone asked me why I personally liked Chipotle so much, this would be my response: “It is a healthier version of fast-food.  The ingredients are high quality, raised locally, and without hormones.  Regardless of the line, I know my customized meal will be ready in no time.  The environment is simple and open with a sense of positive energy running through the building.  Most importantly, my experience is, without a doubt, consistent across the board.” 

Chipotle’s tagline is “food with integrity.”  They pride themselves on their sustainable foods, particularly their meats that are locally raised without hormones or antibiotics and their produce, which is local and organic.  Chipotle goes above and beyond to get this message and identity across to its customers by making it more than just about the food.  They give every customer an experience, where they are hit with the brand at every touch point of their process from entering the door to walking out the door.  From a simple yet unique building, to fast and personalized meals with friendly staff, to sustainable foods (which you watch them cook in front of you!) Chipotle has learned to create an experience for every individual.  There is an energy at every Chipotle that the customers seem to feed off of.  People do not spend their money and continually return solely for the healthy food at affordable prices; they pay for the experience.   

Personally, I love everything about Chipotle.  I enjoy the experience, I love the food (especially their burrito bowls!), and I love the atmosphere.  However, as we all know, situations arise that can make it difficult to consistently provide excellent service.  Sometimes lines get long, food can't be cooked fast enough, or mistakes are just made…this is inevitable.  Chipotle has learned to deal with these issues to prevent any change in the experience.  Sometimes, they even make it better!  For example, I have waited in line for my meal but the chicken was still cooking.  To make up for my wait, Chipotle gave me my meal for free.  I had a similar experience where many people were in line.  The cashier went out of her way to hand everyone a free large soft drink to make up for the wait.  I could go on and on with stories about fantastic experiences with Chipotle but it all comes down to the fact that every time I enter that building of wood and rustic metal, I have a consistent experience of quality.  Ultimately, that is the brand message and promise that Chipotle has built for everyone; consistent quality and experience. 

Steve Ells, Chipotle's CEO, favors simple, yet effective, Word of Mouth marketing.  With such a great reputation and identity, Chipotle has made marketing and branding that much easier for themselves.  They have ultimately built a model where they have consistently provided a one-of-a-kind experience that keeps me coming back week after week!  Try Chipotle out for yourselves if you haven’t already to see what you think about the customer experience.  We can all learn a thing or two from this fantastic and successful business model.