IHOP to IHOB: Behind the Marketing Strategy

IHOP, or the International House of Pancakes, recently made a dramatic change to their brand, changing the P (for pancakes) to a B (for burgers). After seeing their brand awareness decline on social media over the past five years, a 33 percent decline overall, they felt it was time for a change.  On June 4th of 2018, IHOP tweeted that they were changing their name to IHOB, encouraging people to guess what the “B” stood for. These kinds of marketing strategies, ones that engage people and encourage interaction through comments and shares, have been popular among businesses for years. Rarely, though, has a company committed so strongly as to change its entire brand name and product as part of such a marketing strategy. Let us take a look at what IHOB is up to and what we can glean from its strategy as you focus on your own brand management.

B Stands for Burgers in This Marketing Strategy

Oddly enough, as pancakes have trended downward over the years, with dietary concerns that are focused on the negatives of gluten, sugar and processed ingredients (all of which IHOP’s pancakes are rich in), burgers have trended up. A menu staple since their inception in 1950, IHOB has chosen to focus its marketing strategy around the burger. Unveiling several new menu options on June 11, they also officially changed their brand name.

A Deeper Look at the Data

Pancakes have been steadily decreasing in online popularity, and along with it, IHOP’s brand awareness. Consumers, either because they wanted healthier options or because pancakes just aren’t a hot topic anymore, have stopped relating to IHOP’s brand. All the data suggested it was time to make a change. Not exactly a breakfast staple, burgers might have been a tough thing to market by normal marketing strategies. So, in order to capitalize on the trending popularity of burgers, IHOB was born. This total commitment, at least in the short term, has paid off. There is now quite the social media buzz about the all-new direction this American institution has decided to take.

Lasting Success

It remains to be seen whether or not this marketing success will have a lasting impact and whether people will now seek out the International House of Burgers the next time a craving strikes. What is clear, however, is that IHOB’s marketing strategy has been a slam dunk as far as raising brand awareness and engagement in the short term.

Will It Work For You?

The odds are that you may not want to completely change the name of your brand. IHOP has been around as a recognizable brand for over 50 years. That kind of cache has surely been a big part of why people have responded so strongly to the change. On a smaller scale, however, you might consider looking at trending topics that your company is related to. If, for example, your brand focuses on a healthy and happy lifestyle, use that. Search out trending topics and engage your community with questions relating to these topics.

Posing questions or teasing new product reveals is a great way to generate buzz around your brand.  Take advantage of products and services that you currently offer that people may not know about. Highlight them in a fun way to gain traction. Marketing strategies that promote conversation and interaction are always more successful than those that are static in nature. It may be a silly name change, but IHOP to IHOB has created buzz around a company that was floundering. And, all they did was change one letter. For more information on how marketing can help you hone your brand, call or email Web Content Development today.

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About the Author

Erica D’Arcangelo – De Silva

Erica D’Arcangelo – De Silva has worked in the Internet marketing industry for the last 20-years. Erica is the top-secret SEO weapon to marketing and advertising agencies in the world. She has generated over 300+ million in revenue for high-value brands such as Walmart, Pottery Barn, iRobot, Cutting Edge Firewood, Kelley Blue Book, and many more. Erica has custom-created more than 1,000 content, SEO, and marketing strategies which held the key to doubling and tripling online traffic, and marketing ROI. She has also authored a series of online publications including The Digital Branding Survival Guide, Million Dollar Marketing, 5 Steps to Increase Web Traffic by Blogging, and Repairing Your Online Reputation.