Stand out through branding

Branding may be only one of many factors you must make when launching a business, but it’s a crucial decision. It identifies you, your products/services and your philosophy to customers, hopefully making you stand out from the competition. And it protects your ideas from copycats.

You may build your entire business around a handful of ideas. For example, three men recently launched an independent restaurant in Athens, TN. Their restaurant, Tracks, is located in a former Central Park restaurant (for those not familiar with Central Park, this regional chain uses small, drive-through buildings with no internal seating). Tracks is owned by Shane Smith, a banker and Athens politician; Randy Dunlop, a successful Domino’s pizza franchise owner; and Eric Walker, a former high school assistant football coach.

Tracks serves hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken nuggets and milk shakes. Tracks’ owners said they came up with the name after a lengthy brainstorming session. Eric said the use of a railroad track logo is easily recognizable. The hot dog and hamburger toppings are referred to as “cargo.” The owners are thinking of pain

ting railroad tracks on the driveway, and are thinking of using a person dressed as a train engineer to wave at passing traffic.

Before opening Tracks, these business partners made a decision to create a theme around the restaurant’s name. That’s a great way to stand out from competitors.

The owners have also made an effort to stand out in other ways. Randy said since the restaurant could not compete with a cheap menu, he and his partners decided to compete on quality: The hotdogs are all-beef, Black Angus, and milk shakes use real milk from a regional diary that’s based in Athens. And the owners decided to give hiring preference to people who had been laid off, putting back to work more than a dozen people who had been laid off in an area that has a higher-than-average unemployment rate.

So, branding includes more than a name and words: It can bring in what products you offer and how you reach out to the community.

Photo by Anthony Dake

Tracks menu, photo by Anthony Dake


About Jason Reynolds
I'm a reporter, blogger, husband and aspiring author. When I'm not working, spending time with the family, or reading (which is quite a bit), I enjoy cooking, traveling, photography and wrangling my family's cats and chickens.

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