Episode 4 – The Multiverse / Brand Success

Making decisions that reinforce your brand will help you keep doing the things that you do best.

Chapter 10. Stay on Target / Brand Focus

Our lawyer said you need a name. So, I said, how about Five Guys? – Jerry Murrell, founder of Five Guys

Oh, we’re using our made up names? Then I’m Spider-Man – Peter Parker

“You want fries with that, Mr President?”

During the Obama administration, a Five Guys restaurant received a call from The Pentagon requesting the delivery of fifteen cheese burgers. The President of the United States had an itch that only Five Guys could scratch.

Not only would an opportunity like this open up some great marketing avenues, but you now get to slap up a sign reading: ‘The official Cheese Burger of The President!‘ on each of your restaurants.

This would have been the thought process of the restaurant manager as he took that call from The Pentagon. The only problem… Five Guys don’t deliver.

Too much focus is rarely a problem for a brand. But would you turn down an order for your product from Barack Obama to stay on Brand?

Jerry Murrell of Five Guys did, and boy did it pay off.

As time goes on your company will develop its capabilities and your brand will grow in recognition and reputation. New opportunities and collaborations will present themselves to you, hoping to leverage your brand value and connect with your customers.

Deciding on how you steer your brand through a multiverse of opportunities will dictate its longevity and success.

Five Guys is an American success story, named after the five Murrell sons – Jim, Matt, Chad, Ben, and Tyler – who spent much of the early years perfecting their recipes so they could fulfil their simple mission statement:

“Five Guys is The Place to get a fresh, juicy burger with all the toppings you could stuff between fresh-baked buns!”

The focus they place on delivering their mission is a great example of how you can differentiate in a market so mature that its products are virtually a commodity.

If you’ve ever visited a Five Guys restaurant, you’ll know it’s no McDonalds. Jerry Murrell knew they couldn’t compete on price with the likes of McDonalds and Burger King, but they could compete on quality and taste.

Five Guys is all about the eating experience. And that experience turned out to be special enough to get the Commander-in-Chief out of the While House to order his meal in person.

In an age of constant evolution, there is a temptation to latch on to every new gimmick out of the box in order to stay relevant. We’re sure Jerry Murrell of Five Guys considered changing his delivery protocol in order to serve The President. But he decided he’d have more to gain in the long run by holding true to his brand’s true identity.

Much like our comic superheroes, who change their costumes, pass the mantle to their side kicks, and even disappear completely in order to sell a few extra issues – they always end up coming back to the original essence of who they really are. By all means, allow your brand to change and adapt when necessary, but don’t forget what gave you your power in the first place.

TIP 1 – Look for opportunities and ideas within your core focus.
Meaningful details are the key.

Chapter 11. New Allies / Brand Collaborations

We’ve got the tiger by the tail, and we’ve just got to hold on – Ben Murrell

Everybody loves a hero. They line up for them – cheer them, […] And years later they’ll tell how they stood in the rain for hours, just to get a glimpse of the one who taught them to hold on a second longer… I believe there’s a hero in all of us – Aunt May (Spiderman)

It’s often said that in business, to stand still is to move backwards. So, with a mantra of strict brand focus how does a company evolve it’s offering to stay ahead of the game?

Creating strong, robust and clear brand guidelines are essential when assessing opportunities for development within your company. Your brand should act as a decision-making compass to help you stay on the path of success.

Five Guys are more disciplined that most when it comes to deciding what collaborations are ‘on brand’.

In the early days, customers asked for coffee. So, Five Guys started to serve coffee. But they weren’t baristas, and their coffee was nowhere near as good as their burgers. This was unacceptable for Jerry Murrell, so from then on, coffee was off the menu.

But Five Guys are not averse to innovation. They were the first company to install Coca-Cola Freestyle machines in their restaurants. This was a great fit. Another American classic that goes hand in hand with a burger and fries.

With such deliberation over what drinks to service with their food, you can imagine how seriously the decision was taken to franchise Five Guys. This would involve Five Guys indoctrinating thousands of people every year into their strict formula for success, and relying on them to represent the brand.

Jerry Murrell took a great deal of convincing: ‘It’s a whole lot easier just to run ’em yourself than to try to convince other people how to do it…’

With sales of over $1.4 billion in 2018, you could say the decision has paid off.

TIP 2 – Review every collaboration against your brand guidelines
Look at its long- and short-term implications to your brand. What might be attractive now may erode your core brand.

Chapter 12. The Multiverse / Brand Management

Sometimes you just need a burger and fries from Five Guys – Overheard at Five Guys

Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it’s your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say; no, you move! – Captain America

A brand needs to stay relevant. But jumping onto the latest platform just to be seen as leading-edge isn’t always a great idea.

With so many platforms available to connect to your customers, the temptation is to exist on them all. But to only exist is a mistake. You have to deliver the same level of brand experience everywhere.

Five Guys do not advertise. However, they do use social media, encouraging their customers to talk to them and each other.

Five Guys have employed a user generated content approach. They feature their customers enjoying the eating experience and have other regular initiatives, like ‘Fan of the Month.’ This is a low-cost way to engage customers with authentic diner reactions to their great-tasting food.

Five Guys are purists. There are certainly other opportunities they could be exploiting on social media and beyond, but any deviation could upset the perfect recipe of success they’ve enjoyed since 1986.

Staying focused and on-brand has never been more crucial. With so many choices in every market, a brand that stays on target will know who it is, why it’s different and why people want it. Deviate too much and you could end up diminishing your brand power by standing for everything and connecting with nothing.

To ascend to Super Brand status, you’ll need to power your journey with an Arc Reactor-like focus, authenticity and a point of difference that has significance to you and your customers.

TIP 3 – Ensure everything you do reinforces your brand
… and meets your highest standards.

Take aways:

Look to find opportunities that reinforce your brand.
Assess everything for long and short-term brand fit.
If you can’t be great at it, don’t do it.


This is it. The culmination of your brand’s very own hero’s journey! What do you do now? Well like with superheroes, brands are defined by how they weather the next storm around the corner. Who knows what kind of antagonistic forces lie in wait; market fluctuations, a dissolving customer base, or good old-fashioned self-doubt?

Captain America isn’t a hero because of his muscles or his jingoistic shield – he’s a hero because no matter how hard he gets hit, he keeps getting back up. Your true power as a brand is your ability to stand firm and tell the world your story and why it’s a better place for having you in it. If you believe it – chances are we will too. After all, as Stan Lee reminded us – we’re all true believers deep down.

I guess one person can make a difference. Nuff said – Stan Lee

If you would like support in crafting your Superbrand’s image or knowing how to engage your target market then contact New Realm today for a free consultation on 07939 242725 or email us at matthew@newrealmcreative.co.uk

President Obama Photo Credit: The White House [Public domain]
Restaurant Staff Photo Credit: Tomwsulcer [CC0]
Restaurant Exterior Photo Credit: qwesy qwesy