Denny's reinvents the American diner

Geoffrey Precourt

Dennys"We have what most marketers would kill for," Frances Allen, executive vice president, global brand strategy, and chief marketing officer for Denny's Inc., announced to the audience at the ANA 2013 Brand Masters Conference in Palm Beach, Florida. "We have 97% awareness. We have 95% trial. And people feel very fond of our brand."

But step back just five or six years, Allen admitted, and you'll find a brand that was in "free fall". Between 2007 and 2008, Denny's same-store sales declined by 3.7%. In 2009, they dropped by another 4.8%. And they were also registering a 5.9% contraction through the second quarter of 2010. At which point Allen arrived.

"It was a recessionary time," she explained, "but we needed to understand why [the decline] was happening and how do we make the brand more current."