Some of you have probably heard that this month, J. Patrick Doyle will be stepping down from his position as CEO at Domino’s. After spending the better part of a decade in the position, Doyle helped rescue a former goliath from the murky depths of pizza obscurity, and molded it into one of the most lucrative food brands in the world. Now that Doyle has officially sold his shares in the company for enough money to support an extremely healthy Tony Stark-esque lifestyle, it seems fair to deem his time at the company a great success.
By this point, the case study of Domino’s turnaround is well-documented, but here’s the story in a nutshell. In 2009, after nearly 50 years as a company, things weren’t going so hot. People thought their pizza sucked, and sales were suffering as a result. In response, Domino’s and Crispin Porter + Bogusky basically told America that they were listening, they were sorry and they were completely changing their pizza and their brand to make it better. People liked the pizza and appreciated the honesty, and almost a decade later, Domino’s is stronger than ever. In the wake of Doyle’s departure, it seems fitting to take a closer look at the lessons that any nutrition company could borrow from Domino’s to help find success and fight consumer confusion.
- Nothing is More Important Than the Product
For a brand as established as Domino’s, a complete reinvention of a core product is bold. But when things go south, your product is the first thing you should look at. Rather than employing more advertising gimmicks or tweaking their current recipe, Domino’s openly scrapped the cardboard crust and ketchup sauce for an entirely new pizza. And while the expensive ads and flashy online order methods have certainly helped elevate their brand since, none of it would matter without a product worth selling.
- Honesty is a Darn Good Policy
Transparency really is Domino’s whole thing. People grew skeptical of doctored advertising food, so Domino’s addressed the situation and vowed to only show real pizzas. When customers questioned their ingredients, Domino’s took people to the farm where they source their cheese and vegetables. Even their pizza boxes became a place for consumer feedback. If you have an opportunity to be transparent and teach consumers about your product or the process of making it, do it. Consumers have no reason to be confused with a brand that has nothing to hide.
- You Don’t Have to Stay Inside the Box
When Doyle started at Domino’s, the name of the company was Domino’s Pizza. A few years later, after success with sandwiches, chicken and more, the company officially eliminated “Pizza” from their logo to symbolize that they were more than just a pizza place. When working on your company, keep this in mind. Don’t pick a name that could limit you from exploring new areas. And, if you have a name already, don’t be afraid to explore promising new territory, just because it conflicts with your current product.
- Keep Your Humans “Human”
Many brands have used their CEOs, founders and employees in advertising as a way to “humanize” themselves to the public. However, for this to work, your “real people” have to still feel real. Domino’s succeeds because their real people are there to show how the company actually operates. They act like themselves, not like cartoon characters, and that makes all the difference.
- Work with People You Trust
This may sound obvious, but it would be foolish to credit Domino’s turnaround without also crediting their talented advertising team at CP+B. Finding an agency that has your best interest in mind and trusting them to tell your story in creative and interesting ways is so important. If your agency really understands your brand, then your consumers will follow.
Be digestible. And thanks.