What In-N-Out Burger Teaches Leaders about your Brand Story

I miss IN-N-Out Burger.

It's been years since I've had one. And in my Marketing classes at @Baruchcollege I often point to them as one of the best quality burgers you can't get in NYC, and one of the truest marketing stories in the country. I usually survey the class and find one or two people who have had their simple burger experience. We are part of what @sethgodin calls their TRIBE. We like fresh, reliable, affordable and considerate as our burger experience.

That's why today when I saw that they were taking a food delivery service to task for delivering their burgers, I saw what their brand may be up against in this world of gotta have it now. The company prides itself on its long history. They launched their first store in 1948. Their brand has always been Mom and Pop style. And the company is soon to be run by the original Mom and Pop's, granddaughter. It's such a success story and one that has scaled in away that keeps the brand authentic. Did I say they aren't in NYC?! Sheesh!

When thinking about a brand presence in business or in education, this company might be worth a look to see how they have kept their promise and value over the years. But their brand is in a new age of marketing . It's not 1948, or1958 or even 2008. We are now in the Digital First age, and customers want quality fast and will get it anyway they can. IN-N-Out may not like seeing itself in the hands of an intermediary before the customer gets served. I'm sure they worry about the brand QUALITY that can be lost in that process when they are no longer serving directly to their valued loyal clients. 

It's something that they will be dealing with and their new CEO knows this for sure...keeping a brand relevant, going into new uncharted territories and forming partnerships. It's necessary in 2015. This is a company without a Twitter presence or much in the way of FB. The behavior of one of their segmented markets, probably a hungry 22 year old guy...wants his burger, but won't drive for it. It's suddenly consumer news.The customers who once drove an hour for their burgers are now retirees and may not feel compelled to engage that way. their fan base is pulling them in a new direction.

The brand story is being retold now by a third party. That's never good. And trying to hang on instead of updating that story seems like a bad idea. What seems like a good idea is opening IN-N-Out in NYC. Anyone interested in that?