Brand Audit: Noodles & Company

Noodles & Company, originally uploaded by physicist47.

It feels like it’s time for another Brand Audit, and since I at lunch at Noodles and Company today, let’s see what they have going on.

Background – Noodles & Company was new to me until I moved to Colorado.  Noodles is huge out here, but according to Wikipedia, they’ve really expanded their footprint and are not out on part of the east coast.  If you haven’t had Noodles, they offer a variety of noodle dishes inspired from America, Asia and the Mediterranean.  So you can get Mac and Cheese or Bangkok Curry and everything in between.

Branding – Noodles & Company is about as consistent of a brand as you’ll find.  They do a great job of sticking with their core identity.  If you’ve been to a Noodles & Company, you proabably know what I’m talking about.  Whether it is broccoli trees or a noodle fountain, all of their branding is consistently unique and communicates a friendly attitude.  Everything is about the food, but its fun at the same time.  That’s a hard balance to strike, but they do it well.

Noodles sells a very small selection of wine and craft beer.  It’s definitely not the type place that sells a lot of adult beverages, but just having them available makes the place feel trendy.

Website – Noodles smartly offers a flash and an HTML website.  The Flash website navigation is set like a city called Noodleville.  They offer a newsletter called a Noodlegram.  When I signed up, they asked my birthday and preferred location, so I assume they use that info to send some targeted information.

Advertising – Noodles & Company doesn’t really do much – at least as far as I can tell.  I seem to remember some OOH during the summer last year, but nothing huge.  But, I’m cool with that.  I haven’t seen their numbers, but by judging their traffic and what I assume are HUGE margins, they really don’t need it.

PR – I found a few press releases online, so it seems like Noodles seems to stay active by promoting new entrees and new store openings via public relations.

SEO/Social Media – I conducted a pretty simple Google search and didn’t find much in terms of Social Media, but they seem to have optimized Yelp, Urbanspoon and Chowhound.

Overall – I like the Noodles brand and I think they do a pretty good job of managing it.  The brand is quirky and fun but focuses on the food and creates a healthy perception.