To help them prepare to reintroduce themselves to their customers and the Brookline, PA neighborhood after a major renovation, Pitaland asked me to lend a hand in rolling out the freshly updated family-owned bakery and new Pitaland Café. This required some research, of course, which began with familiarizing myself with the current state of things. (And, yes, this meant eating some things.)
If a brand is more than a logo – but is the sum of a set of distinct things that ultimately total the full expression of a brand – then Pitaland is what I would call a “pure expression” of a brand. In other words, how customers relate to Pitaland has everything to do with how they deliver on their brand “promise” – the promise that they offer only the best quality and service in all they do – and in uniquely authentic ways. This includes their products, their employees, their store, their presence both online and off (even how they interact with firemen in the local engine company down the street).
Part of what makes any interaction with a brand meaningful and memorable (and worthy of repeat) is experiential and reinforced by the environment – an almost emotional attachment forms, making the experience more meaningful because of the surroundings, ambient conditions, etc. Shopping or eating in Pitaland’s store is one of the more perfect examples of this I have ever had.
It takes mere seconds after walking into their place to get a complete understanding of where their business stands on just about everything. I could have asked lots of questions about what their goals were, their core principles, philosophy, strengths, etc…but I didn’t need to. It was all right there in front of me. (And in my belly…)
Cases in point:
- You’ll most likely be greeted by a family member.
- If they are out of something there’s a better than average chance that whomever is manning the counter is willing to give you some from their personal stash in the back.
(not a joke – this happened to me. Owner Joe Chahine gave me some of his freshly made Muhammara when they were out)
- You’ll be treated like family whether you are or not.
- If you need to ask a question, whomever you ask drops everything to answer it – and if it happens to be related to their pitas or any of the variety of fresh-made specialties, prepare to get a behind-the-scenes tour.
- Their passion and genuine love for sharing all they have to offer with customers is infused in every interaction.
- Pitaland has become a cultural gathering place – it’s literally the first stop for many transplanted Lebanese, Syrian and others new to the United States – and the Chahines’ generous support is legendary.
- Go ahead and ask around – anyone you ask will confirm the above…and this is exactly the point.
Full disclosure: Bakery manager Donna Chahine Tweardy and her husband Greg Tweardy who runs the outstanding Pitaland Café used to be our next door neighbors, but all that really does is validate for me just how genuine Pitaland’s brand “personality” is. (That, and the distance between me and fresh goodies is much shorter than for most!)
Simply put, Pitaland doesn’t need to put on a show because they deliver on their brand promise in fundamental ways that keep customers coming back – and telling others. They don’t need to rely heavily on promotional campaigns to draw people in or to create “hooks” to compel customers to visit. Over the 40+ years they’ve been in business, they have worked hard so that their products (every one of them), their employees (all of them), their newly renovated store, café and bakery all accurately reflect their core focus. Their customers have come to know them – some very personally – and have come to appreciate the level of quality Pitaland consistently delivers. On top of that – and it should not be minimized how important this is – they are first and foremost exceptionally warm, friendly and approachable people, and it’s evident how important this is to their customers (both new or old).
As they completed renovations of their Brookline, PA store, we worked together on a redesigned website, including video featuring historical anecdotes by Joe Chahine himself. We also worked on preparing the new Pitaland Café environment with large format environmental graphics, as well as some new label packaging for some of their fresh made-to-go products.
Some of the the results are below…but I recommend experiencing it all first-hand. Preferably for breakfast at their place, which runs from 8 – 10 am. Ask for Greg – he’ll take great care of you – and tell him I sent you. (see, word of mouth is all it takes – that’s what great branding really is, after all).