Bar Louie Serves Up Localization With Clear Brand Messaging For Over 100 Locations
This case study originally appeared on ClickZ, one of the largest digital marketing news communities in the world.
Bar Louie was founded in 1990s Chicago as ‘The Original Gastrobar™’ and has since grown to over 130 locations. As a restaurant chain, Bar Louie’s foundation is “the neighborhood bar” and localizes its identity to each community it’s in, even tailoring menu items per location. Localization has always been pivotal to driving brand awareness and community engagement, but their marketing needed help moving away from traditional, outdated techniques and towards a cohesive, localized digital strategy.
“As part of our digital strategy pre-2020, we had a focus on Facebook to communicate and connect with fans. We had other channels like Instagram but didn’t have a system or a platform that enabled us to have a balanced centralized and localized strategy. We were under-utilizing our digital presence for local marketing and only used it for brand marketing,” said Bar Louie’s previous Head of Marketing, Kayla Dillon. This made it extremely challenging for Bar Louie to interact and communicate with distinct locations, cities, and states, each with different requirements. Bar Louie needed to identify the right platforms for engaging with their digital audience and build relationships through local pages and personalized content/information. It was important for Bar Louie to retain a clear brand identity but also achieve digital expansion.
Thanks to the brand’s careful balance between centralization and localization with SOCi, Bar Louie is a top performer out of nearly 300 top multi-location brands based on approximately 100 metrics in search, social, or reputation.
In 2020, Bar Louie partnered with SOCi to take control of their digital marketing, which Bar Louie also used as an opportunity to refresh their branding. The SOCi platform provides the system and processes that enable Bar Louie to have a centralized marketing foundation scalable for the future by utilizing SOCi Ads PLUS, Reviews, Listings Advanced, Social, Boost PLUS, and Social Listening Advanced. This approach simplified marketing for restaurant managers and increased opt-in and engagement, which was vital to success at the localized level. Along with social media, Bar Louie knew how frequently their audience would be searching online for information about their various locations and focused on setting up or updating local pages, extending the new brand voice to all locations and Google Business Profiles.
This approach improved awareness and SEO, and the local pages’ updates were crucial in giving each location the freedom to run its own pages with a core brand identity to fall back on. “We know people search questions such as ‘Is this restaurant open near me,’ or ‘What are your hours of operation.’ This was an opportunity for us to answer them. We could populate with important, real-time information for the specific location, and proved hugely impactful for user experience. We didn’t just want awareness; we also wanted to provide people with the information they needed. If they were in the intent to buy stage, having this information would be the key to continuing their buyer journey, ” said Kayla.
With SOCi, Bar Louie provides restaurants with a platform, easy-to-access training, and a content library so each location can create and share content and information for their customers, creating a framework for engaging with their local community on social networks. The corporate team encourages content like sharing photos of team members and provides restaurants with resources inside of the SOCi platform, such as videos showing new menu items they can promote. These practices give local restaurants the confidence to create personalized, community-driven content that embodies Bar Louie’s brand and helps each location connect with its key demographic.
Bar Louie’s success with the SOCi platform has been substantial as the restaurant chain transformed its digital strategy without sacrificing its personalized approach to customer engagement.
From Q1 2021 to Q1 2022:
- Instagram impressions increased by 1289%
- Total reviews increased by 36%
- Website visits increased by close to 60%
Thanks to their careful balance between centralization and localization, Bar Louie is a top performer out of nearly 300 top multi-location brands based on approximately 100 metrics in search, social, or reputation.