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How Chipotle keeps its 'brand voice'

News, 08 April 2015

AUSTIN, TX: Chipotle, the restaurant chain, ensures the consistency of its communications across various channels and campaigns thanks to a dedicated Brand Voice Lead, who is charged with keeping its agencies "on voice".

Mark Crumpacker, the company's chief creative and development officer, discussed this subject at the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) Transformation 2015 conference in Austin, Texas.

"We have somebody on our team whose title is Brand Voice Lead. And, basically, his job is to interact with the agencies and make sure that what they're doing is on voice," he asserted. (For more, including how the firm allocates budgets differently than its rivals, read Warc's exclusive report: Headstrong marketing drives Chipotle results.)

More specifically, William Espey - the holder of this role - routinely scrutinises the text, imagery, themes and concepts in its marketing, as well as internal communications.

"He's been at Chipotle forever - 16 years, I think. He has a real good sense of what feels right for the brand," Crumpacker reported.

"And that's his job: to interface with the agencies to make sure what they're saying matches our tone."

Undertaking such a task helps maintain Chipotle's distinctive positioning, based around the notion of "Food with Integrity", within the fast-food category.

While the overall philosophy underpinning its communication stays the same, the Denver-based company has been active in an extremely wide variety of different areas, from print ads to branded content.

Its messaging is also spread across three broad types of campaign, each of which requires a clear degree of nuance.

"We now spend about a third of our marketing [budget] on the 'Cultivate a Better World' [effort], another third on traditional above-the-line [advertising] - which is largely outdoor, print and radio - and another third on local marketing," said Crumpacker.

"If you take out any one of those components, all of our marketing performs much worse. And it just took, basically, years of experimentation to figure that out."

Data sourced from Warc