Chipotle's Brand Evolution
The Chipotle Cultivate campaign is a very good example of rebranding. Their brand story really shows the life of a developing brand.
Chipotle traditionally was heavily associated with the aluminum brick burrito (see picture). Now, we all associate the silver bullet with Chipotle goodness. Chipotle's advertising however has evolved greatly over its growth to stardom. Initially the company associated itself with burritos then healthy, locally sourced ingredients and now sustainability and "cultivation" from the source. It has shifted the dialogue to a higher level, and embraced an altruistic brand message that is loftier and transcends the burrito. At the end of the day, it allows them to connect with their customers more deeply and really create positive impact.
Chipotle Cultivate Campaign
This clever campaign had four main components - all listed above.
- Chipotle Cultivate Foundation. This foundation's main purpose is to address and support family farms and sustainable practices in the farming industry. This allowed all marketing initiatives to have a charity component and legitimize their claims on sustainability. They demonstrated their commitments and also provided tons of great content to use in multi-media campaigns. Here is their website.
- Loyalty Program. Utilizing an old marketing tool, Chipotle put a new twist to an old idea. Instead of encouraging customers to eat more burritos - Chipotle's loyalty program (Farm Team) makes people learn about sustainable farming practices and family farming to be awarded points. It spreads knowledge and awareness and further demonstrates their commitment to the cause. As the program reminded its customers, "What your food eats, you eat"
- Cultivate Food Festival. What did this festival celebrate - what else, healthy, locally grown food. Ingredients matter. With bands, craft brewers, artisans, chefs, local farmers, musicians and healthy crowds - these festivals were a great success. They helped cultivate a community around their new brand message. Cultivating healthy food.
- Short Film. Obviously such an amazing campaign cannot go without its central viral element - a film short (below) called "Back to the Start". This short was aired during the Grammys for the first time and garnered much positive attention and 10,000+ tweets. Currently with 7.4 million views, this viral piece did great work to call attention to Chipotle's efforts.
Sweet and Smokey Success
Why did Chipotle's efforts pay off so handsomely for the brand?
- One Word. This entire campaign stems from one word - Cultivate. A single word can be powerful if chosen correctly and if used as the driving thought behind all marketing pushes it can help connect efforts across platforms, create cohesion, deliver a stronger resounding message. This perfectly chosen single word campaign performed miracles to galvanize Chiptole's new brand message and story.
- The Fuzzy Warm Feeling. Bringing a marketing campaign back to altruistic roots can really help legitimize any campaign and touch people's emotions - allowing for greater message reach. This completely made transparent Chipotle's methods and message and humanized their brand as they adopted such a community oriented goal to their central mission. Lessons learned - sincerity counts.
- Narrative. This campaign had a strong narrative that was clear and precise. In addition, more stories could be drawn from local communities during their festival and in their foundation's efforts to really spread the message in a large way from a local level.