The MINA Group is an award-winning restaurant group headed by Chef Michael Mina that has built success on a foundation of selflessness and adaptability that is reflected in a dining experience that has been artfully curated – from the food on your plate to the feeling you have when you walk out the door at the end of the night.
Every day, The MINA Group strives to be better and improve – yes, every single day. They are obsessive when it comes to their craft, and obsessive has its advantages. You will know that you made the right choice when you decide to visit one of their restaurants.
Offering a high-quality “virtual” experience (whether that’s in-person or at home) became more important than ever before during the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants needed to be able to determine how to control the quality of their food outside of the restaurant. With fewer customer touchpoints available, the virtual brand experience of restaurants now relies on efficiency and quality.
MINA wanted to provide a delivery service out of their brick and mortar locations and ensure that this virtual experience lived up to the high standards of not just service, but food quality that their customers had come to expect. By proving to customers that The MINA Group both accepted and acknowledged the importance of this transition from “our dining room” to “your living room” they were able to generate excitement about the new age of dining.
The restaurant group needed to redefine their brand architecture, and was seeking an advertising agency that was equipped to help them do so. The goal was to determine what marketing elements should be changed, and to develop new, tangible resources to reflect internal positioning changes.
Another objective was to define how to represent the brand visually while still keeping brand awareness of Michael as a chef top of mind. We didn’t want to erode the fine dining perception The MINA Group had cultivated while moving into the delivery and fast-casual space, but instead leverage that brand equity in the MINA name to give the fast-casual concepts credibility and awareness.
To start, we sat down with The MINA Group’s core decision makers for a Brand Visioning Session in San Francisco. Before we met with the team, we took a deep dive into the marketing efforts that the brand was already communicating, and educated ourselves on the industry as a whole. We realized that we would end up focusing on four things: identity, architecture, marketing and operations.
We also authored an industry report, consumer personas, a S.W.O.T. analysis, and a living, editable document outlining specific brand attributes and language so that The MINA Group’s voice could be cohesive and consistent throughout all of the organization’s communications.
Our findings during the Brand Visioning Session and our internal research drove the strategy behind all of our deliverables. To let you in on our thinking, we’ll walk you through some of our main takeaways.
First of all, we realized that the allure of MINA as a larger entity was their ability to do the uncommon, un-commonly well – consistently and whole-heartedly. The “MINA Magic,” as we called it, was the way that effortlessly curated elevated enjoyment with great food, great conversation and great people. At the end of the day, we discovered that the MINA family was made up of people on all levels of the organization – the customers, employees, and Michael Mina himself. These discoveries drove not only our written communications, but our creative development as well.
The goal was to identify, develop and determine which brand attributes were representing the company correctly and how those attributes permeate all the different concepts so they are consistent, cohesive and congruent. The strategy was to walk through a series of exercises to gather the MINA team’s insights, goals and ideas in terms of direction – all while asking difficult and penetrating questions to encourage deeper thinking into what the brand represents and how it can be presented to their different audiences cohesively.
The main target audience for The MINA Group was – you guessed it – made up of foodies. Someone with a curiosity for food who was intrigued by innovative concepts and different cuisines. Regardless of age, they were likely to be a business professional and have a certain amount of disposable income. They were passionate about the dining experience as a whole, and didn’t want anything “vanilla”.
People engage with The MINA Group because they offer a better experience. The host is going to treat you like you’re a friend, and each and every guest leaves a MINA Group restaurant feeling amazing. After their first visit, they know that a MINA Group restaurant is where they want to be – they know they’ll feel like they made the right dining decision.
We developed a variety of personas, but we’ll dive into a few here.
Heather is a 26-year-old freelance graphic designer who doesn’t always have the time or desire to cook, but identifies as a major food lover who likes to experiment with different flavors and cuisines. She is looking for higher quality food, better delivery options and a customer experience that makes her feel valued and important.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Oscar. A 54-year-old CEO and founder of a digital marketing company, loves farm fresh food, craft cocktails, eclectic design and artisan-made products. Independent, adventurous and an appreciator of the finer things in life, Oscar is willing to pay top dollar at a place like Bourbon Steak where he can take clients or close friends and feel confident knowing the dining experience will be unlike any other – from the quality of the steak to the quality of service.
To sum it up, they are adventurous risk-takers, seeking a thoughtfully curated and elevated experience when dining out or enjoying takeout from one of The MINA Group’s virtual concepts.
The entire leadership team was thrilled with the work we produced, and The MINA Group is now positioned in a much better place to expand into new markets, reach new audiences, and communicate a continued level of refinement to the customers who are already brand-loyal.
Though our work continues with The MINA Group, they have already seen tremendous success after implementing our brand strategy suggestions, and have seen an increase in traffic in all forms – from reservations to online ordering and even on their social media channels.
The new brand architecture we recommended was one built around endorsements. In an endorsed architecture, there is a parent brand and associated sibling brands, all of which have unique market presences. The relationships between the sibling brands and their parent brand within this endorsed architecture are mutually beneficial and symbiotic. Under this umbrella for The MINA Group, we had signature restaurants as well as virtual concepts.
We had goals to increase in-person business by at least 10%, and wanted to see an increase in online ordering of at least 15% (a higher number, because this was something that The MINA Group wasn’t really focused on at all before we stepped in). Finally, we aimed to reach 25% more people via email and other digital connection points.
So, how did we do?
Our efforts have led to a 15.4% increase in business at their in-person restaurants, a 36% increase in online ordering from MINA Group concepts, and nearly a 35% increase in people reached via email and online communications.
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