Taco Bell Cantina
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
26 September 2017
Taco Bell Cantina depends on its meaning
I have never nor will ever taste a morsel of anything from a Taco Bell menu. Mystery meats come to mind first, a disgruntled employee peeing in nachos does too. As does the image of a festoon of rats infesting a New York location. As such, the brand needs a massive overhaul with it ushering in the Taco Bell Cantina concept.
I doubt Taco Bell, as its brand stands now, has permission to claim it. Taco Bell stands for fun, junk food. It’s the fast food restaurant of Doritos Locos and the Cheesy Potato Burrito. A cantina suggests a gathering place, like a Spanish bar. Maybe it sees an opportunity in the market for Taco Bell Cantina. But the brand will need to mean something that allows those kinds of customers to see themselves in it. Right now, that target audience just sees rats and urine.
There’s an old adage I share with my kids. “Ïf you sleep with dogs, you get fleas.” At that moment, the lesson imparts being mindful with who you hang with. Because you soon become associated with their actions, even if those actions are not your own.
Taco Bell Cantina needs brand permission from the Taco Bell brand
The branding of Taco Bell is its own worst enemy in its pursuits of improving its image, especially in the evolution of some locations to Taco Bell Cantina. The chain is doing some ingenious things at the cantina locations, most notably, removing drive-thru menus and offering alcoholic beverages.
Having brand permission means target audiences seeing the emotional similarity between what your brand means and what it intends to do. Should Taco Bell change its name? Or does it need a flanker brand? The most important question is whether the Taco Bell brand sports a brand meaning that welcomes a new venture.
In acquisitions, for example, it made sense for FedEx to buy Kinkos. The business of both brands was being an office away from an office. Viola! FedEx Office.
But the brand of Taco Bell often resorts to the lowest common denominator. It’s take-out food. Does it serve breakfast burritos with the beer? The success (or failure) of Taco Bell Cantina rests on what the chain does with its brand meaning. Otherwise, beer alone won’t fix it.
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