Do you ever feel like your brand is “stuck” in whatever stereotypical mindset you think your audience has?

“Fast food companies suck”

The fast food industry frequently gets a bad rap. Too often we’ll hear the common perception that “fast food is bad for you,” and because it’s “fast” by definition, you’re sacrificing quality for speed. Because everything is fast, the perception is these restaurants are dirty, unfriendly, no one likes to work there, they have poor service… and the list goes on. But this isn’t true in all instances, you’re just not “stuck” in whatever perception you think you’re in.

Today I stopped to grab lunch on my way into the office. Noodles & Company was easy to hit with the flow of traffic so I walked up to the door and a woman stood outside with a “Noodles & Company” branded shirt. I looked at the door, the hours said they opened at 11 a.m. It was 10:40 a.m.

“Oh crap, they open at 11 don’t they?” I asked as I pulled my keys out of my pocket and got ready to pick another lunch location.

“Yeah, but let me see if they’re ready inside, just hang on a second,” she said.

Breaking the fast food mold

Not 30 seconds later, she comes back out, holds open the door for me and says, “C’mon in! Nick can help you!” and ushered me toward the front counter.

After I placed my order, we made small talk while it was being prepared. Turns out, she manages much of the marketing for Noodles & Company and their Wauwatosa restaurant is a test location for a rebrand. That prompted me to take a look around and evaluate the new decor, pay closer attention to staff and watch how they made my food.

Thanks to the new visuals they had posted, showcasing unique combinations of their ingredients, I even tried something new – Zoodles shrimp scampi!

It only took about six minutes for them to make my food, so I would still consider Noodles & Company a “fast food” restaurant by definition, however, I was supremely impressed by not only their willingness to allow me to come in before they technically opened, but the staff even seemed happy to have me in there. I could see them putting freshly shopped veggies into the pan to saute, everyone seemed in a pretty good mood, and the cook even walked the bag completely around the counter to hand it to me directly, saying “Thanks and have a great day!”

Don’t live your perception unless you love it

The moral of the story is just because there’s a common perception about your company, your brand or your industry, doesn’t mean you have to live it. At any point, you can rebrand. Staying agile and adapting to your customer’s needs can break that mold and create an entirely new view of you, your company or your brand.

I’ve always loved Noodles & Company, but after today’s experience, I’m a Noodler for life!