Branding: how one person can make a brand

In the News, Ampersand Latest, Ampersand Insights

An article by Peter Roper in Marketing Mag discusses how one person can make a brand. In this case Peter talks about Luke Mangan the renown restaurateur and opens many doors whilst showing us how to make a brand when firmly linked to a founder or key person in a company. Natasha Menon, marketing and communications manager of Luke Mangan and Co tells the story of how this all developed describing Mangan as the man wearing a multitude of different hats, a restaurateur, businessman and mentor.

Menton recounts how the unchecked growth of Luke Mangan’s empire over the last ten years left the company with an amazing array of feathers in its chef’s hat, but the brand with a lack of strategic direction, consistency, brand positioning and communication. The business was performing exceptionally well financially, but Menton saw there was an issue with recall and recognition, and an opportunity to take Mangan and Co from an entrepreneurial built enterprise to a unified brand that could be a platform for further growth.

c5f93bc8cbc9b636466fdd3a7e7a801dMenton, ” People could recall his name, but due to this extensive amount of growth, they couldn’t remember where it was associated. It was either Luke Mangan the Virgin Australia resident chef or Luke Mangan the P&O cruise ship guy.” Mangan was the first chef to be represented on planes, trains and ships and has a presence in five continents as such it was a global entity in need of brand loyalty. The creation of the brand unity took twelve months to complete to try and ascertain and define Luke Mangan the brand.

Those segments which formed the structure of the review consisted of redevelopment of brand strategy, redevelopment of marketing communications strategy, redevelopment of digital strategy, business development, internal marketing and organisational restructure and PR and communications strategy for new brand position in the search for Australia’s biggest foodie. What emerged in a constant pattern was a very strong sense of loyalty which you don’t generally associate with chefs. Menon,” So the brand image would encompass loyalty, cooperation and relationships. Mangan’s  strength is building and cultivating relationships, so each of these points would be focused on in terms of relationships. Relationships may be a key ingredient to our business success, but it only works because of the team.”

The venture was much more than just publicity. Menon,” It was truly around building a business, much more so than when chefs usually hire marketers to promote their own brand image. What was interesting about Luke’s was this was going to be a brand positioning strategy that was going to lead his whole business strategy as well, because he had never had that defined.” Then, a series of brand guidelines were developed, when followed would align a restaurant team with the Luke Mangan and Co brand image. The problem here was that chefs don’t read brand guidelines. In order to overcome the skepticism they put them on a document called “Chefs don’t read brand guidelines.”  They also created a new range of websites for each arm of the business each conforming to the new brand entity as outlined in the guidelines. 

Central to the reorganisation was to present Luke as an individual. His personal attributes such as tone of voice, was very important in how the business is driven. Social media was also included as a driving force in the establishment of brand identity. Menon, ” It’s a huge part, an area we are now looking to continue, evolve and grow.” Partnership contracts form some of the brand’s biggest ventures and Mangan takes an active role in building and nurturing them all. Menon, ” A word Luke refuses to to use is consultant. Its purely because his belief is that a consultant is somebody that consults, but is not involved. We really position our brand as an extension of their team.” The partnership arrangements are seen clearly in the offerings of Virgin Australia and the Salt Grill restaurant settings in five of the P&O cruise ships. Further extensions of these developments are backed by Mangan’s role as ambassador for Tourism Australia where he sits on the advisory board, together with Donna Hay and Peter Gilmore.

Recently the objective has been to search and find a CEO to manage the entire brand structure. A culinary experience officer. Menon, ” After a three month shortlisting project it essentially sought  to find one individual that encapsulates the same passion and love for food , wine and great time of the Luke Mangan brand. The shortlist process involved engagement with all the brand’s partner companies, involving them on the panel discussion to narrow the running down to about eight to ten candidates. Essentially, they’ll be an ambassador for our business.”  The background and target was to find someone who feels comfortable engaging with the food and beverage scene across Australia and the travel scene.

Menon, ” The brand is spread over five continents, 19 restaurants, a handful of partnerships and more. It was a global entity in need of brand loyalty. The rapid growth also meant the hierarchy lacked structure. There was Luke and there were 7000 people underneath him. Building a management structure from the ground up made it easier to envisage how a business strategy could evolve up through this.” As a result of of these extensive changes, the four lines of the business are clearly defined and each has its own head. Now the business has a sounding board to check which allows it to stay on course or when necessary makes changes quickly to remain on target.

The story of the development of this brand shows us how as a business grows you will need to introduce a checks and balances system lead by a consultative executive. When the company culture has been defined every member of the team should be trained to support it. Without this support businesses will not grow, nor will loyalty, relationships or cooperation develop. Whilst every business has a leader, the divisions which support the leadership brand will not be able to perform unless they are given direction supported by a watertight evenly applied culture.

Hayley James.

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