Recently, I had the opportunity to hear John Costello speak at Virgnia Commonwealth University Brandcenter’s Friday Forum.  John Costello is the President of Marketing and Communications for Dunkin Brands and shared some advice on how to keep a brand relevant in a rapidly changing world. Costello calls his solution “Bottom Line Branding” and claims, while different brands draw different consumers, the principles are all the same.

  1. Confront reality– Brands need to develop a platform by figuring out what makes them truly useful to consumers. Costello found that Dunkin’ Donuts is more about the coffee than the doughnuts. Once that platform was set, it was used as a launch -pad for all communications strategies.
  2. Differentiate or die– Every brand needs a compelling reason why consumers should choose them over the competition. John advises to keep this message simple, relevant and original. Dunkin’ Donuts is “how everyday folk who keep America running keep themselves running every day.” John boiled that down to “America runs on Dunkin”, and now that drives everything they do.
  3. Embrace a 360 degree approach to meeting customer needs– Figure out which will work for your brand and don’t force the ones that won’t. Dunkin’ Donuts focuses on creating the right customer experience by making the restaurant crew into brand ambassadors. “Dunkin doesn’t underestimate the human component,” say’s Costello. “We spend a lot of time finding and training the right people.”
  4. Be agile– Be prepared for change but in a multi-screen world, the message must be consistent. Dunkin’ lets consumers become the Fan of the Week by posting real people photos on their Times Square billboard. It’s the “modern day version of getting a magazine cover,” says Costello. To further their engagement, Dunkin’ took real tweets and turned them into advertising; merging word-of-mouth with the Dunkin’ message.
  5. Think long term – Invest in innovation. With mobile gifting, mobile payments and geo-targeting offers, Dunkin’ has become mobile-centric because it made sense for a brand on-the-go. Now, they’re the first quick-serve restaurant with a multilanguage app. Dunkin’ Donuts was also the first to use the mobile application Vine on national television with six second replays during NFL games.
  6. Surround yourself with great people– Great teams get great results. Costello referred to the 2013 Boston Red Sox as an example of how you’ll be alright if you can just surround yourself with great people.

By utilizing John Costello’s six steps to Bottom-Line Branding, the Dunkin’ Brand avoided getting caught up in the complexity of a changing world. After 60 years they’re arguably more relevant today than ever and are still proving the potential of QSR’s.

To watch video footage of John Costillo speaking at VCU Brandcenter’s Friday Forum visit their website here.