Brand Optimization on a Global Stage

What does it take for restaurant chain to achieve success in foreign lands? Consultant Juan Martinez shares his thoughts and experiences.

Thanks to a new project, I have been traveling internationally as of late. As a result of my travels, I have had the opportunity to experience a variety of restaurant concepts operating outside of their countries of origin. And it’s been interesting to see how these restaurant chains look to optimize their brands on a global stage.

What does it take for a restaurant chain to become a star on a global stage? Let’s start with some basic questions.

  • How do you globalize a brand?
  • What happens to brands when they go outside their place of origin?
  • What risks do they run when they go abroad?
  • What do they need to watch out for?

I could go on writing important questions that brands need to consider when going outside their countries of origin, but you get the drift.

Keep in mind that I am not talking only about U.S.-based restaurant chains going abroad, but brands from other lands coming to America. The prior was a mainstream occurrence many years ago, while the latter has seen a lot more activity as of late.

In terms of functional design, the same rules always apply regardless of whether a restaurant concept chooses to operate at home or abroad. Form and function must remain in executable in synergy regardless of location. The only difference may be that when a restaurant chain opens outside its country of origin, it may require some additional flexibility to accommodate some slight menu variations due to customers’ regional tastes and preferences. But a restaurant can take flexibility too far, thereby eroding the brand’s promise in foreign lands.

From a functional perspective, remember the operating parameters do not really change. These include the processes, procedures, people deployment, place design, platforms (equipment & technology) and products. The combination of these functional and performance parameters have to work in synergy to ensure each location delivers on its brand promise, no matter how far away from home it is. My perfect example of this, from my own experience, is McDonalds around the world. Regardless of whether you are a fan of the Golden Arches, as you visit these restaurants around the world, it is impressive to experience how closely McDonald’s core products perform to what customers have come to expect in the U.S.

And, of course, the application of industrial engineering principles to ensure this optimization and consistent execution around the world is most applicable.

This leads me back to my current project. Our role is to develop a concept that enables brand globalization from a functional perspective, using the principles of industrial engineering to guide objective design. This will allow us to focus on making the employee journey as simple as possible so they can execute consistently around the world.

With respect to the form aspects of a global brand, what it looks like and what the customers experience must remain relatively consistent from one location to the next. This area is as critical as the form aspect of design to make sure that the brand acts in a unified manner as it expands around the globe.

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