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Noodles & Company: Brand Consistency at a 'Global' Level

For those who don’t have the good fortune of living nearby one of the 300 or so Noodles & Company locations, let me give you a quick background. Started in 1995 out of (our hometown) Denver, CO, Noodles & Company is a chain of fast-casual restaurants specializing in providing a variety of noodle-based dishes, such as Pad Thai, Mac & Cheese, Lo Mein and Pesto Cavatappi. Everything is made-to-order, and I assure you, is quite good.

The merits of the food, however, are not where I intend to focus this piece. Instead, I’d like to point out an area that I feel Noodles & Company has done a great job with lately, which is maintaining brand consistency throughout their recent marketing and advertising efforts. The message behind each is that Noodles & Company features a “global menu” of dishes.

The first time I really took notice of their global menu message wasn’t at the restaurant itself, but rather, from an advertisement on the side of a bus. “Introducing the United Nations of Food.” It’s short, creative, and had me imagining some heated discussions between classic food powers like Tuscan Linguine and Steak Stroganoff, or the more recent power struggle between Mac & Cheese and Lo Mein. Political subtext aside, it created a lasting impression on me consistent with their message.

Not long after, I ran into this billboard (left) placed above a Downtown Denver parking lot. Again, short, clever and consistent with their brand messaging.

From there I jumped online to do a little investigation of their digital media. As you can see, their website homepage remains consistent to the “global menu” theme, inviting visitors to take what amounts to a video tour of their popular dishes. Their Facebook page branches out even farther to show you how culturally engrained Noodles & Company is by showing videos tips for everything from Muay Thai to Origami to learning Italian love phrases.

Lastly I headed to a local Noodles & Company to check it out. As expected, the global theme I had seen online and on the streets was reinforced. A sign hanging in the window outside the restaurant, the pictures on the walls of fresh, regional ingredients, and the visually based menu did a nice job of keeping the message consistent without getting repetitive.

Sometimes it’s easy to get so involved in a single web page, video or flyer for your brand that you lose sight of the bigger picture. And though it might not seem like a big deal, when you start losing consistency with your brand, you start losing your identity. It’s already hard enough to beat out your competitors for customers/clients when you’re already in the race. When you lose your identity, now you have to fight just to get into the conversation.