There are few things harder to do in business than building a brand that people across the world will find iconic. But here’s one challenge that might prove even harder: taking such a brand and redesigning it on the fly. That’s what IHOP is trying to do right now, as a restaurant chain that’s been known for decades as the International House of Pancakes is trying to rebrand itself as International House of Burgers. Will the IHOB gambit be successful?
According to Ad Age, they’ve put a great deal of effort into this project. The man behind the idea is Brad Haley, the company’s new chief marketing officer, who came on board a year ago after spending more than 12 years as CMO of CKE, the parent of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. He’s built his career selling burgers—which, he realized IHOP has sold since 1958, however, no one’s really taken notice. His objective now is to reframe the conversation about the IHOP brand.
“One of the very first things we did was to gauge people’s awareness of burgers at IHOP,” Haley said. “The awareness was low, quite low, I’d say. Even though we’ve had them forever, they just were clearly not top of mind.”
When Haley launched an ad campaign in June teasing that the longtime IHOP brand would become “IHOB,” guesses abounded about what the B would stand for, and Haley said they were all “breakfast-related” – breakfast, brunch, bacon, biscuits and so on. This was exactly the problem: everyone knew the restaurant was a great place to get breakfast, but no one knew about their depth of other options. Haley is out to change that.
IHOP put a great deal of effort into getting this right, conducting extensive research into the types of beef, toppings and even burger names they could use to perfect their product. They performed taste tests in four different markets nationwide, after which they tweaked their seasonings and cooking methods to get everything just right.
“For us to make a credible statement around burgers, we had to not just make a better burger, but make the best one we could come up with,” Haley said.
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