Grinding to the next level: new era at Bridgehead

Three short years ago I wrote about my favourite coffee shop chain Bridgehead on the occasion of their 10th location in Ottawa. Well, tomorrow, they’ll be opening their 15th store just off Preston. Think it’s a fluke they’ve been so successful? I Beg to Differ!

The new HQ – off Preston Avenue.

More than a store

The bright, spacious new retail store is just the beginning. There’s a lot more to this space.

Sorry, when I say “store”, I’m using the wrong word. The new Bridgehead location – just now getting its final tweaks prior to public opening tomorrow – will be far more than just another retail coffeeshop. It’s going to be the new head office for the Bridgehead chain and the new central warehouse to supply all 15 Bridgehead outlets across the urban core – big enough to have space for a community room, and hold coffee tasting workshops for staff and the public.

But in an even bigger development for the chain, it’s a roastery as well! So as of tomorrow, all coffee in all Bridgeheads across Ottawa will be roasted by their own local staff right here in Ottawa. 

This marks Bridgehead’s transition from being a retail reseller of other people’s coffee to being a producer and innovator, selling their own coffee. Along with this, they are building a team of experts who have already had to learn to produce large volumes every day.

Bridgehead 2.0

The roastery is filled with gear straight out of a steam-punk alchemist’s lab.

And you can really taste, smell. and see the difference. I tried one of the new Espresso roasts in a tasty, steaming cup of Americano today, and it not only tastes better, it looks better – with a real head of dense foam like you find on your cup in Europe.

One day early, I was invited in for a sneak peak at the new location, and I asked Bridgehead’s Coffee Program Manager Ian Clark whether  that was just my imagination. Here’s his geeky-but-fascinating answer, plus a look around the new roasting facility – including a glimpse of their new “Human Roaster.” Check out the YouTube.

Brand evolution

What becomes very obvious very quickly is that Bridgehead is evolving into a different kind of brand. Always a savvy purveyor of great coffee, they are now becoming a place where great coffee products are developed and refined.

What does this mean for Bridgehead? Well, this is where I’d love to hear from you. Have you tried the new roasts? Are you excited about visiting? Let me know in the comments!

Favourite blog posts of 2009: October & November

Part 3 of our series on our favourite posts of 2009″

October and November held a few more pleasant surprises for us here at Beg to Differ – from our Chicken Sandwich series to our first Slideshare cross-over hit, cure to  a Seussian Twitter phenomena, viagra we continue to be surprised by the enthuisiastic response of our readers – but almosrt never in ways we expect.


What if restaurants charged like creative agencies? The other side

October 9, 2009

The branding business: we haven’t have a lot of posts about this topic area… yet. But we felt we needed to respond to a viral video which lampooned clients for not “getting” the value of the work creative agencies do. After all, it takes two to tango – or quibble over a giant invoice.

More on the biz: when branding, look outside;

Big Fresh

How to name a chicken sandwich: thoughts for branders

October 19, 2009

Brand naming: When KFC launched a new chicken sandwich with a name developed by Brandvelope, we took the opportunity to toot our own horn a bit and talk about the process of naming a brand. And the results: our biggest single day tally of visitors as branders came by for a taste of what we do.

More on names:Sorry Shakespeare: names matter;  brandscape – a chicken or egg?

Fail Plane

American Airlines meets Mr. X – a tragic tale of brand failure

November 9, 2009

“Whole brand” thinking: This short post on the failure of a giant corporation to understand  effective customer engagement in the social media era marked the first time a SlideShare deck  of ours reached 2000 hits – and climbing (in response to a tip from  Alison Gresik).

More on this:Toronto Web site fail; Human in five steps; the perils of too much choice; one immutable law

goat2[1]Green eggs & spam: a Twitter poem

November 19th, 2009

Social media: Funny to talk about this one as a greatest hit – because we wrote it in the middle of the current “faves” series – and it’s really still going with more than 100 RTs to date. Basically, we wondered a) what @SamEyeEm would be like on Twitter, and b) what Dr. Seuss might think about the new “ReTweet” feature on Twitter.

More on this topic: Twiterloo; branding explained in Twitterese; “Social Media” needs a new name.

More in this series:

Oh, and another reminder: please sign up for e-mail updates (on the right) or our RSS feed, so you keep track of our future posts.

Sorry Shakespeare: names matter – for roses & chicken sandwiches (2)

Part 2 of the Chicken Sandwich series on product names

Yesterday, there  in “how to name a chicken sandwich“, Beg to Differ talked about the first steps in the process of naming the new Big Fresh chicken sandwich from KFC in Canada. Today, we tackle another big question we often get asked: why worry about names at all? After all, didn’t Shakespeare say “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”? Sorry Shakespeare, we beg to differ.

Bard - Colonel
The Immortal Bard and the Late Great Chicken-Slinger. Which one was the better brander?

Badly named roses stink

Apologies to the Immortal Bard. I’m a long-time drama geek, so to be fair, it’s not Shakespeare himself speaking; Juliet is moping about her little Capulet /  Montague conundrum. And as you know it all ends pretty badly for Juliet, so Shakespeare himself shows us that names really do matter – and can actually kill you if you ignore their power.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose,
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

My response: lady, if the name stinks, no one will ever get close enough to find out!

It doesn’t matter if you have the best “rose” or product in the world, customers can’t learn to love you if they can’t find, understand, or remember you – all of which are the functions of a good name.

Even worse, if the rose is called “Thornflower”, “Smell-Bloom”, or “Red Floral Plant Number 2349293”, it actually won’t smell as good to customers! Your name is almost always the first thing your customer will learn about you. Great brand names “set the table” for customer perceptions of your product.

“Setting the table” for KFC

Which brings me back to my KFC Big Fresh chicken sandwich. We could have just called it “Chicken Sandwich” and been done with it. And indeed for another restaurant, such a descriptive name would be exactly the right name to help customers figure out where the product fits in the “menu” (the brand architecture).

But because the new sandwich had to stand out as a star in a line-up of other products, we needed a name that balanced a bit of descriptiveness with the right amount of character – or, to use terms the Bard used: to capture the attention of the “groundlings” (hold the focus of the audience) but “do not saw the air too muchwith your hand thus, but use all gently” (that is, don’t overact and upstage your other products).

A good name should do (at least) two things

The art of naming is to get inside the mind of a customer. Your name needs to start the conversation on the right foot to show them how your product will do two things:

1) Meet their needs & satisfy their expectations

Your name (and all other brand elements) has to show that you are part of the product universe they know and understand. Customers are always looking for safety first, and names that are too far beyond the realm of the expected are going to miss the mark. That’s not to say you can’t be innovative, creative, or stretch the bounds of their understanding. So “Apple” as a name for a company can work. But remember, even Apple used to be called “Apple Computers” until the connection became effortless.

2) Excite them at the same time

Comfortable doesn’t sell without some excitement as well. The trick is to meet their expectations and then take them somewhere new. Show them aspects of your products that are new / different / interesting / worth talking about to colleagues, friends, or bosses.

That’s a lot to ask of a name. And you may be wondering how all of this applies to the KFC Big Fresh. Well, we’ll explain all that tomorrow. In the meantime, here are a few more…

Thoughts for branders:

  • Is your company a Juliet (and possibly heading for a tragic end), or are you aware of the critical importance of getting names right?
  • Are you stuck with marketing a badly named rose?
  • Can you change the name, or re-arrange your product architecture?
  • If not, are you at least aware of the limitations that your current names impose on you, and are you trying to help customers understand more clearly?

The Chicken Sandwich Series

  1. Sorry Shakespeare: names matter – in roses and chicken sandwiches (this post)
  2. The right kind of name: a chicken sandwich story (coming soon)
  3. The tasting: what I learned as a customer (coming soon)

How to name a chicken sandwich: thoughts for branders (1)

Part one of a series on product naming.

So, medications after months of waiting, cialis 40mg  the baby is finally here. No, ed I don’t mean my actual baby – my wife and I are still waiting for the arrival of our third little bundle at the end of November. I’m talking about the new chicken sandwich Brandvelope named for KFC in Canada – which appeared in stores on Friday. Beg to Differ often gets asked what goes into such a process, so as a public service, here are a few insights for brand managers from the Kentucky Fried trenches.

Big Fresh

The Colonel calls

When Priszm (the company that manages the KFC brand in Canada for Yum! Brands) called Brandvelope this summer to ask for help naming the new sandwich, they already had a great product in development. The concept of the new sandwich had been pretty much nailed down after several cycles of focus group testing, refinement, and more testing.

We learned that they were launching this new product to be a “hero” – or “flagship” of their line of sandwiches. And we learned that focus group subjects loved the sandwich, but they didn’t love any of the names that had been tested.

Our job: find the right name for the new sandwich.

The sandwich concept:

  1. The chicken: fresh, skinless chicken breast fillets breaded in-store with the Colonel’s 11 herbs & spices, then fried on-demand for customers.
  2. The extras: fresh lettuce, a sesame seed bun, and peppercorn mayo.
  3. The packaging: the product is the only KFC sandwich served in a box, giving it a premium, high-value appeal.

The concept sounded like a winner to us (as a matter of fact, the early concept photos had our mouths watering). But what do you call such a thing?

There are two basic ways to approach naming.

The wrong way: creative first; strategy last.

This is the most common approach to naming. Sit in a room and brainstorm until you come up with the most creative, crazy, or compelling name you can think of, then run with it. This approach can be loads of fun, and usually leads to names that work great for the brainstormers, but not for customers.

The right way: strategy first; then get creative

This is our approach: take some time to understand the context that the new product will be launched into, the “brandscape” around it, and most importantly, what the name is supposed to do. Then and only then do you move to the creative part.

A great name is never just a name; it’s a tool to help people find, understand, and remember products, services, and yes, chicken sandwiches.

What we needed to know before we started:

  1. Intentions and strategic goals: what was the impetus behind the launch on the part of the people managing the brand?
  2. Customer expecations: what did we know about the hang-ups and desires of the target audience?
  3. The Brandscape: what competing products would the new product be compared to and how could we highlight the differences?
  4. Brand architecture – how  would the new name complement and contrast the rest of the existing portfolio of products?
  5. The unknowns: what additional information did we need, or at least, what were the areas where we’d have to make educated guesses?

The process from there:

So how did we get from these questions to the final name “Big Fresh Chicken Sandwich”?

Good question. We’ll get into more details in a series of blog posts over the next few days. But in the meantime, here are a few “take-aways” to think about.

Thoughts for branders:

  • Does your company treat product (or corporate) naming as a creative process first, or do you start with customer-facing strategy?
  • Can you answer all five of the areas we needed to adress for KFC above?
  • Are you treating your products as individual entities or  as part of a bigger system that helps customers make decisions?
  • Are you listening to people outside of your board room when you make such decisions? People who are willing to challenge you and your assumptions?

The Chicken Sandwich Series

  1. How to name a chicken sandwich: thoughts for branders (this post)

Yummy Mummy & Urkelo’s: 15 breakfast brands we’ll never see again

Breakfast Cereal brands that didn’t stand the test of time

After yesterday’s post on Laser-Engraved Corn Flakes, and Beg to Differ took a look at the Wikipedia list of breakfast cereals and noticed just how many of these cereals failed for one reason or another. Either they were meant to promote a short-lived movie, prostate character, ed or cartoon, or given names that became liabilities for other reasons, or they were just hilariously bad ideas.

Sad spoon

15 breakfast cereal brands we’ll never see again

biltedCer1) Bill & Ted’s Excellent CerealRalston (1989)

A short-lived cereal based on the equally short-lived Saturday morning cartoon of the late 1980s starring a pair of teenaged slackers – one of whom was a very young Keanu Reeves. Funny, he never made the cereal aisle again with subsequent movies. Perhaps  Dangerous Liaisons Crunch?  The Devil’s Advocate Loops? Matrix Flakes?

Baron von Redberry2) Baron von Redberry & Sir GrapefellowGeneral Mills (1972)

Interesting concept. These two characters were set up as mortal enemies – World War I flying aces in a dogfight for breakfast-table supremacy. They both spiraled down in flames, but you have to admire the effort.

3) C-3PO’sKellogg’s (1984)

This of course was a cereal based on the Star Wars character, C-3PO. I remember seeing this one on the supermarket shelf. Why the fussy, anally retentive protocol droid and not Leia Cinnamon Bun Crunch or Wookie Pops? Who can say.

Tag line: “A Crunchy New Force at Breakfast”

4) Cocoa Hoots – Kellogg’s (1972)

This cereal was described on the box a “sweetened chocolate flavored cereal – fortified with 8 essential vitamins”. Its mascot was named Newton The Owl.

But is it just me, or is there a striking resemblance to the logo of a certain chain of restaurants?

Coincidence? Probably.
Coincidence? Probably.

crazy-cow5) Crazy CowGeneral Mills (Late 1970s)

To me, this name is an odd duck – or perhaps a weird heifer? The idea is that it would turn your milk a “crazy” artificial pink colour. But as if that weren’t appetizing enough, I’m pretty sure after the Mad Cow scare of a few years back, this one won’t be making a comeback any time soon…

Dunkin Donuts6) Dunkin’ Donuts CerealRalston (1988)

The brand connection between the chain of adult focused coffee-and-donut stores and a kid-oriented breakfast cereal is a bit of a stretch. Particularly in 1988, when I would have expected this to taste like Styrofoam, day-old coffee, and cigarette ashes. Mmm.

Tag line: “Crunchy little donuts with a great big taste!” Two varieties: Glazed Style and Chocolate.

Flutie_Flakes_10th_Anniversary_Box7) Flutie FlakesGeneral Mills (1998-2001)

Named for quarterback Doug Flutie, these ones actually lasted quite a while, and the cereal became an ironic pop-culture hit – with a box appearing in the background on Seinfeld for example.

Wikipedia also notes that Flutie Flakes became the subject of a minor controversy in January 1999 when after Doug blew a playoff game against the Dolphins, Miami Dolphins‘ head coach Jimmy Johnson poured Flutie Flakes on the ground and invited his team to stomp on them. This made Flutie very angry.

Freakies8 ) FreakiesRalston (1972-1976)

Very elaborate product line and character universe, but a fairly sizable flop for Ralston’s first attempt at sugary breakfast cereal. But even today, you can order T-Shirts from this Freakies fan site:

9) Mr. T Cereal – Quaker Oats

As a famous man once said: I pity the fool that ridicules this cereal. So I’ll let another famous man introduce this cereal to you (and the other denizens of his demented playhouse).

Pee-Wee Herman eats Mr. T cereal

Mud and Bugs10) Mud & BugsKellogg’s/Disney (2003-2006)

Mmmm. Tasty. I’m going to award this one the “Least Appetizing Name” award. Of course, it’s a promotional tie-in worked out with the Disney merchandising folks and meant to promote the launch of the Lion King franchise.

And yes, I can see the “gross-out-mom” appeal of “Mud & Bugs”. But even as a kid who loved grossing out mom, the name alone would inspire me to skip breakfast entirely.

Green Slime11) Nickelodeon Green Slime CerealGeneral Mills (2003)

Sorry, I take back the Least Appetizing Name award and give it to this You Can’t Do That on Television spin-off. Funny though, that this would have come after the lifespan of the show – with the golden era of You Can’t being the late 1980’s.


12) Nintendo Cereal SystemRalston/Nintendo – (1988-1989)

For a commercial product tie-in, the name and “System” concept are creative, different. We like that. Here’s how Wikipedia describes the “system”:

“The cereal box was divided in half. One side, called Super Mario Bros. Action Series, had fruity-flavoured Marios, Super Mushrooms,Goombas, Koopa Troopas, and Bowsers, and the other, called Zelda Adventure Series, had berry-flavored Links, hearts, boomerangs, keys, and shields.”

13) Punch Crunch – (Quaker Oats) (1970s)

Cap’n Crunch apparently had a few spin-0ffs, including this violent-sounding sidekick. The “Punch” refers to the fruit-punch-flavour of these cereal rings. The mascot was a hippopotamus named Harry in sailor duds, who actually does some villain crunching in the old commercial below.

Commercial for Punch Crunch:

Urkel-Os14) Urkel-OsRalston (1991)

How did this kid ever get a cereal? Named for Steve Urkel – the supremely annoying fictional character on the ABC/CBS comedy sitcom Family Matters, portrayed by Jaleel White, this one was mercifully short-lived and now we have only the commercials on YouTube to remember how close we came to the end of civilization as we know it.

Commercial for Urkel O’s

Yummy_Mummy15) Yummy MummyGeneral Mills (1987-1992)

Funny, I’m married to one of these. But this cereal probably predated the wide use of the term for a nice-looking female with children. Also known as “Fruity Yummy Mummy”s, this cereal was part of the same cereal family as Count Chocula and Franken Berry.

From Mr. Yummy Mummy was a “fruit flavor frosted cereal with vanilla flavor marshmallows”. The yellow marshmallow pieces seemed to resemble the shape of a head. On some of the cereal boxes, they were referred to as “monster mallows”. The other cereal pieces were red and orange. They may have also been intended to resemble heads, but the primarily circular nuggets with two slits in the center looked more like colorful little pig snouts.