Village Inn - if you live in the Rocky Mountain region, Midwest, Arizona or Florida the name evokes images of late nights before you were old enough to drink, smoking cigarettes and sipping coffee after a movie (pre-starbuck’s era) and old folk. The chain of restaurants is known for hearty breakfasts, late night service and baked goods. Owned by American Blue Ribbon Holdings, LLC of Denver, Colorado the brand seems familiar to most, yet thought of as less than favorable by many.
American Blue Ribbon Holdings owns and operates a chain in the upper midwest known as Baker’s Square, a concept I’m not intimately familiar with, but looks to be pretty similar in structure to Village Inn. ABRH also owns Legendary Baking, a direct to consumer baking company with a focus on pie. I think its pretty safe to say that the ABRH brands’ core product is Pie. It’s the main product associated with Village Inn, and the operating structure of the company seems to pretty well support the distribution of that product.
My issue with Village Inn is not so much in the quality of the menu or the focus on mediocre, yet convenient pies. I do not feel the brand image is relevant. I will admit, I am more than slightly outside VI’s demographic focus, but I can still spot a brand in need of a face lift even if I don’t engage with it. The brand seeks to attract empty nesters and attempts to locate restaurants near older demographics. I can certainly appreciate reaching out to an older demographic and frankly there is market potential within this segment.
However, the logo screams 1980s, as something at an attempt at looking ‘classic.’ If the brand wants to stay relevant in the eyes of aging Boomers (and their future core business) they need to update the logo, and feel of the restaurant.
The color palette for Village Inn is actually fine with orange and teal, and quite key to their overall success as its highly recognizable. It is the cut and quality of the logo that will send VI the way of the Dodo if they don’t take action relatively soon. Their next generation of customers expects a cleaner experience, a higher quality and better service. The new brand image needs to speak to those improvements in operations and quality.
The brand could use a little classing up, a fresh new look and perhaps a partnership with one or more well-known suppliers to supplement their brand equity. This might include a branded coffee or juice vendor, features from specific and recognizable cheese or beef producers. Perhaps the best leverage might be through a partnership with egg vendors. Best known for breakfast, “Village Inn branded eggs that are always fresh from the farm, organic and free range simply just make your day better.”
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a major overhaul within the next 5 years. However, if that doesn’t occur, I have a feeling franchise sales will become sluggish. Innovation is key to successful brand equity, without it you become as stale as a slice of week old pie.