It’s the 90%

Have you heard of “Udorse,” the newly launched endeavor where everyday people can earn sponsor dollars for the brands they feature in their blogs and Facebook pages? (

You get the picture: “Click on my bracelet and you’ll find out more about the brand of jewelry I’m wearing.” (What is it Yakov Smirnoff used to say? “What a Country!”) Udorse must be really new because my twentysomethingstudents haven’t even heard of it yet. I asked them the other day.

Clearly restaurants might be the target of this promotional “opportunity,” as Facebook pictures often depict people in restaurant settings.

In the interest of full disclosure, though, I have to say I am not being paid by anyone to eat at any of the restaurants I talk about. I actually think I’d have a better chance of being paid by restaurants to not talk about them. Honestly, I talked to an industry friend the other day…who shall remain nameless. After we discussed his newest promotion…for a company which shall remain nameless, he added, “Please don’t put this in your blog. We’re trying to stay off the radar with this.” Of course, I respect the confidentiality of my friends and clients…that goes without saying. (Honestly, your secrets are safe with me.)

  • But, I’ve got to say, like I did in my Top Ten blog, “Only Steal from the Best,”copying the competition is dangerous for a lot of reasons.
  • The restaurant business is not unlike an iceberg–only about 10% of an iceberg is above the surface. That’s the part that competitors most often copy. But the reality is that most of an iceberg is below the surface of the water.
  • Much of what makes a restaurant chain successful is just below the surface. Copying the 10% that’s above the surface without seeing the 90% that’s below the surface can be deadly.
  • The real success factors that drive a brand can’t easily be seen when you walk in the front door for a competitive visit.
  • Companies protect their brands by reinforcing their competence, not worrying about someone copying the 10% that’s above the surface.

The success of a restaurant brand is based in its culture, values, systems, infrastructure and the core elements of the brand. In all probability, there are elements under the surface that may not be obvious from the outside: purchasing arrangements, training programs, marketing programs, brand heritage. That’s the part that competitors can’t copy.

The true strength of the brand resides in the 90% that is below the surface. The key question with a service like Udorse is, does it build or compromise the brand?

The more fragmented the media environment, the more pressure there is on brands to know what they are all about and project that in every element they launch above the surface.

Until next time…I’d love to hear your thoughts.