Why the Burger King brand can’t break its #2 position

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

22 September 2011

It doesn’t even consider a new idea

On a frequent basis, Stealing Share will take a look at various markets for companies who are in position to steal market share. We send information about our process and, as brand strategists, we try to get across in a small amount of information on the absolutely imperative effect brand has on a company’s success, such as the Burger King brand. (More on that in a second.)

“The Burger King brand is essentially claiming that it wants it to be known that: ‘When pursuing the success of our company and the preference of our brand, Burger King will stop at nothing short of ignorance to remain status quo.'”

burger king brand
These attempts do not always gain the traction we would hope as many companies keep their own rose colored glasses on because taking a critical and honest look at their brands is not often an easy or comfortable task.

However, we have never had this information returned to us by the company with our unopened envelope hidden inside a new hand-addressed envelope, noting our information as unsolicited. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just trash it?

That returned letter was from Burger King, a brand whose existence in the fast food hamburger chain market has been restricted to second place, and lower than that when looking at the totem pole of overall fast food chains.

We now know why.

How much longer can the Burger King brand keep operating like this?

Burger King is obviously a company that appears to be so process driven that it takes to the time to mail back an unopened envelope rather than evaluate its contents. Hell, if whomever got it thought it was junk mail (and it wasn’t), why not just throw it away? Why take the time to mail it back? The Burger King brand is essentially claiming that it wants it to be known that: “When pursuing the success of our company and the preference of our brand, Burger King will stop at nothing short of ignorance to remain status quo.”

Napoleon once said, “If the art of war were nothing but the art of avoiding risks, glory would become the providence of mediocre minds.” Stealing market share does not involve avoiding risk. It involves being bold, memorable and intensive to your market. One can only surmise from the directness at which Burger King avoided what was so very desperate to its brand’s success that it has found comfort in its stasis.

Perhaps in time, having McDonalds eat its lunch will prompt a departure from mediocrity. In the meantime, if this is the care by which they value its brand, my suggestion to the private equity firm that bought the Burger King brand is to invest elsewhere. Get out when you can.

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