One of my favorite vacation spots in Utah is Bear Lake; a massive (for the desert) lake with beautifully blue water surrounded my mountains and small communities or cabins and homes and condos.
In one of those communities is a restaurant called La Beau’s.
If you’ve ever driven through Garden City where this restaurant has stood for decades, you’ll likely recognize the sign that depicts their trademark spotted cups used to serve some of the best milkshakes in the land.
And it’s not just a claim, it’s the truth.
As long as I can remember, La Beau’s has been the place to go for shakes. It was their brand a decade before I knew what a brand was. It’s why right on their sign it says:
“Famous Raspberry Shakes”
This restaurant sits right on the highway that virtually every traveler passes through. Prime real estate for a tourist-heavy town.
Oddly, however, for many years the lot next to La Beau’s held an old, vacant, run-down house. On one side of the fence was a restaurant capitalizing on hundreds of thousands of passers-by to run a successful, profitable business. On the other was an old, boarded up shack.
Finally, a few years ago, that changed when someone bought the lot and built another restaurant: Zipps.
Not wanting to reinvent the wheel and recognizing the type of traveler they were trying to serve (summer passers-by coming to/from the beach), Zipps served very similar food to La Beau’s.
Burgers, fries, and, yes, shakes.
What to do, what to do…
So what do you do if you build a restaurant next door to a classic local brand famous for something you also plan to serve?
You’ve got a few options, right?
You could try to make the bigger or better or different or unique. That list could go on and on.
But if you look closely at the photo above, you’ll see that Zipps did none of this. They didn’t compete on the product, they competed on branding. They competed by embracing their position in the local market instead of fighting it.
I think this is absolutely, completely brilliant.
I wish I had some clever soundbite for why it is, but I don’t because it’s so many things. It’s smart, clever, and simple. It positions themselves beautifully while showing what they sell without admitting any shortcoming on flavor or quality. It plays the brand-superlative game against La Beau’s without being confrontational or turning it into a game of “one-up”-smanship.
It’s all this and more.
And it’s why I think it’s one of the best bits of marketing and branding around. And when you think about the current state of luxury resorts and multi-resort passes, I think there are some really intriguing ideas hidden within it for small ski areas as well.
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