Purveyor of spicy, cheesy, crunchy fast food, Taco Bell is one of the fastest growing quickserve brands in the country. Healthy, sustainable, refreshing salad-maker SweetGreen is also one of the fastest growing quickserve brands too. Want to know what they both have in common that they believe is responsible for recent growth?  Both are purpose-driven brands. Do you think your brand is deserving of a better reputation than indulging cheat days? Read on for 3 ways to imbue your quickserve brand with purpose.

Do you think your brand is deserving of a better reputation than indulging cheat days?

Live your purpose through culture
For the Mexican-inspired taco slinger, declaring a purpose was an inevitable part of a journey to improve their food quality. In 2007 Taco Bell eliminated transfats, in 2013 they eliminated kids meals, in 2015 they committed to simpler ingredients while launching a nutrition calculator. Next up for 2016, cage free eggs and eliminating additives. Purpose isn’t just about better quality food though, it’s also about how a company lives its culture leading to a positive benefit.

Yum Foods-owned Taco Bell saw 8% growth in 2015, the same year Taco Bell declared its new purpose –  to feed people’s life with más: engaging with and supporting the communities we serve, investing in the potential of team members and today’s youth through education, and evolving our menu and restaurant design to meet the needs of our customers. Taco Bell’s new open kitchen design, late-night hours and variety of digital paths to engage the brand keeps the brand fresh and relevant while catering to the youth culture of today. The Live Más Scholarship supports annually over two hundred “innovators, creators, and dreamers” with a $1 million dollars of funding to help young people create a positive impact on the world. 

Let purpose disrupt operations for the better
At SweetGreen, every employee building your salad wears the brand, literally on their sleeve. T-shirts read “Passion X Purpose.” It’s easy to assume a craft salad maker would want to offer food that is delicious, affordable, and healthy, but SweetGreen has always seen themselves like an Uber or a Warby Parker, a disrupter that wants to solve problems. To deliver on the healthy delicious food in a quickserve setting, SweetGreen is working to disrupt the ordering process so you get those benefits fast, re-launching an app recently with a throttle algorithm that optimizes their 15-minute order segments to meet real-time demand. SweetGreen’s purpose is lived through its tech team and design-forward approach to delivering fast food.

Ensure employee well-being is part of your purpose
Purpose clearly isn’t all about supporting after-school programs and volunteerism – though those community engagement activities are good for a company and demonstrate its social responsibility. When a brand lives its purpose it benefits its employees too. Shake Shack, the crown jewel of restauranteur Danny Meyer, recently raised its prices on its wildly popular Shackburgers so it could raise its New York employees’ wages.

“We looked at the food world and said ‘Over the last 20 to 30 years, America has moved so far in terms of how animals are raised, in terms of caring how vegetables have grown, in terms of the environment,'” Danny Meyer told Business Insider. “Isn’t it time to think about how people are paid?”

A Shake Shack spokesperson noted that the moderate price increases reflected a continued commitment to lead with hospitality, pay above minimum wage, and provide the Shack Shake team with career growth opportunities.

While many fast food brands are stuck touting lower calories, sustainable sourcing, and heavy price promotions, quickserve brands that adopt a purpose differentiate themselves in a sea of sameness. By engaging your employees best interests, disrupting traditional service expectations, or even declaring unabashed support for a specific consumer, people will have one more reason besides cheat day to choose your brand the next time they get a craving for something fast and meaningful.

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