Friday, August 10, 2012

What I learned from Portillo's in Chicago

Nikon P7000, ISO 100, ƒ/2.8, 1/2000
A couple of years ago a friend of mine introduced me to Portillo's in Chicago.  It is an experience for sure.  You come in stand in a line to order. My friend encouraged me to order the the Italian Beef sandwich with everything in it. I also ordered a side order of crinkle fries and a chocolate malt shake.

I enjoyed it more because of all the experience around the food.  I am in Chicago and for my last meal I decided to stop by the Portillo's in Schaumburg.

Before you even go in the door the view from the parking lot is not like other restaurants. Look at all the flowers and the manicured landscaping around the building.

Nikon P7000, ISO 1087, ƒ/2.8, 1/350
Once you walk through the door you are transported back to the 1960's when the restaurant started.  Extremely clean and colorful. Unlike Cracker Barrel restaurant where everything on the walls is from the past, but looking rusted and worn out, here at Portillo's everything looks brand new.

For those of us who remember living during the 1960's this looks even cleaner than my memories, but there is enough memorabilia to take me back to those years.

Nikon P7000, ISO 320, ƒ/2.8, 1/110
The staff is dressed in white shirts with Portillo's in script on the back, ties, black aprons and newsboy style hats definitely creates an atmosphere all it's own. Checker board floor and on the kitchen walls definitely creates a flash back to year's ago.

Neon signs were created in 1910 and very popular between 1920's and 60's. Today designer's use these to create a feel for a business and often create flashback's for their customer's pasts of years gone by.

What about you?

Now when people experience your brand do you transport your customers to another time and place? Does your brand create an atmosphere?

You have a brand whether you know it or not. It might not be so distinctive as Portillo's, but it may be so bland that you are just know as one of the many providers of services in a market.

Photographer's have been known to wear certain types of clothing. Often the world travelers are seen in Khaki's whereas the news photographers are known to be in jeans like the famous news photographer animal on the Lou Grant Show.  If you are too young to know what I am talking about here is a link to a photo of animal.

On the other extreme was the photographer Felix Unger in the TV show the Odd Couple.  Here is the opening for the show that showed how obsessive compulsive was impetuous in every detail.

There is even the super hero Spiderman was a photographer known as Peter Parker. Here you can see his photo. I like him because Stan Lee created him. Hopefully you see the humor here.

Our you the hero to your clients helping them out of binds and saving the day? Are you the persnickety Felix Unger that customers like the attention to detail, but find some of your personality strange?

Maybe you see yourself like National Geographic Magazine fictional photographer Robert Kincaid as depicted in the book Bridges of Madison County. You may like Clint Eastwood's betrayal of Kincaid in the movie version of the book. Kincaid had a way to awaken the soul of a small town woman living on a farm. Do you create excitement with your clients? Maybe not like Kincaid, but in other ways you may create a bit of mystery with your presence.

Ask your friends and maybe some clients to help you know how they think of you now. Then see if there are things you can do to make yourself more memorable and distinctive. Maybe you need a new wardrobe. Maybe you need to take some dance classes to develop better posture.

Know you brand and control your brand. Be intentional and you too can create a following just like Portillo's does for it's customers.

No comments: