Cooking Up Brand Development For Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Whetting the Appetite of a Younger Generation

Ruth’s Chris Steak House approached Vivaldi seeking brand development to improve and update their brand strategy, guest experience, and implementation initiatives. Ruth’s Chris wanted to implement a design for the future vision of a customer experience that would inspire and empower the organization to deliver on the brand promise, in the context of today’s and tomorrow’s customer needs and behaviors. Following the global financial crisis, there has been a shift in the value of fine dining, creating a need for greater relevance to today and tomorrow’s steak-eaters. Given Ruth’s Chris’ dependence on the Boomer segment, they were unsure of how to cater to the rising generations. Ruth’s Chris’ lack of brand vision and strategic framework was also handicapping the roll out of growth initiatives.

Perfecting the Recipe for a Strong Dining Brand

We wanted to discover more about Ruth’s Chris by gaining a deep understanding of the customer, the brand and what the future looks like. To improve Ruth’s Chris’ understanding of the wider population, the Vivaldi Partners team sought to gain a cultural anthropological understanding of guests’ mindsets and behaviors, beyond dining out occasions. Through customers’ stories of memorable dining experiences we gained insight into the customers’ needs, goals, and challenges. We mapped out the typical steakhouse dining ritual, which included anticipation of the meal, arrival of the food, immersion in the dining experience, and a period of reflection after leaving the restaurant. We also discovered specific drivers that truly differentiated Ruth’s Chris from the competition. We explored and tested various options for the future customer experience design. The Vivaldi Partners team wanted to define and design the future customer experience by means of an orchestrated series of validated customer touch points and use a blueprint to define and implement a strategy for delivering the customer experience and a roadmap to get there. We conducted future trend research as well, to forecast the evolution of category and consumer needs. Our goal was to not simply create a positive customer experience but to capture future demand and build upon Ruth’s Chris vision. We wanted to tailor the experience to target customer needs and move the focus from the product to the experience as a whole, to treat every customer interaction as a precious resource, to deliver the brand promise through a holistic experience, design and create a space to attract, stimulate and engage, the customer and tell a great story to inspire and empower the organization. The Vivaldi Partners team wanted to accomplish all of this with a forward-looking view.

The Sweet Taste of Success

As a result of our work, we succeeded in sharpening Ruth’s Chris brand strategy and positioning. We initiated a mindset transformation and cultural change within the organization to help Ruth’s Chris think more about their changing customers and how to cater to them. The Vivaldi Partners team also helped to create a model for inter-agency collaboration to assist with coordinated campaign planning. We helped Ruth’s Chris perform ongoing brand performance tracking so they would be able to see where they were excelling and where their challenges still remained. In this way they would be able to focus in on the challenges for future growth. Ruth’s Chris has been a client since 2007 and has had consistent positive topline growth since we started working with them. Ruth’s Chris has had a +3.7%, 5-year CAGR (compound annual growth rate) since 2007.


Meet The Expert

Expert Image
Larry Lucas

Senior Partner

Larry Lucas is a Senior Partner at Vivaldi. He brings over twenty years of experience in brand management and helping his clients achieve their growth objectives through practical, actionable marketing. Larry has helped his clients build portfolio growth strategies, brand positioning, customer experience strategy, new product concept creations, as well as broader organizational marketing capability development.