The Courts Decide

Co-Creation Experiences Are Integral to Brands

by Mike Brown

The Courts Decide - The Chipotle ExperienceThis is for all those business people who still operate under the mistaken belief brand strategy is simply about logos, colors, and design.

A recent court decision has to be a rude awakening – at least in the area covered by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – where watching and participating in food being prepared in a restaurant is considered an integral part of a brand experience.

The ruling against Chipotle restaurants was based on a claim by Maurizio Antoninetti (who is confined to a wheelchair) that the Chipotle chain’s 45-inch dividing wall around its food prep counter prevented him from participating in the “full Chipotle experience” as his food was being prepared.

Chipotle offers a variety of accommodations to disabled patrons, including letting them view ingredients in cups, taste ingredients, and have their food prepared tableside. All of these, however, were found insufficient in presenting the full brand experience. As a result of the ruling, Chipotle has begun retrofitting the walls and changing future restaurant designs to comply with the ruling.

There you have it brand strategy fans.

A customer’s active co-creation role in selecting and guiding the preparer in how a food item is assembled is an integral part of a brand experience.

While some are raising questions about the plaintiff’s motives and whether the court decision makes sense, our brand strategy angle in covering the story here is there’s legal proof that even tangible products have experience and co-creation dimensions in their brands. That’s a strategic branding judgment you’ll find all kinds of support for here!

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Mike BrownMike Brown is an award-winning innovator in strategy, communications, and experience marketing. He authors the BrainzoomingTM blog, and serves as the company’s chief Catalyst. He wrote the ebook “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” and is a frequent keynote presenter.

Mike Brown




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