The Michelin Guide and the World’s 50 Best are both controversial for the way they rank restaurants, but let’s avoid this point, which finally doesn’t bring anything constructive to our thoughts, and let’s focus for a few minutes on what it brings to chefs and restaurants.
The positive aspect of Michelin’s guide is probably visible for most of you as it acts as a kind of warranty for guests who know what to expect. On the other hand, restaurants can expect a high occupancy rate; they don’t even need to chase customers as they just come to it.
The World’s 50 Best acts differently as the Michelin guide as it communicates more about Chefs through beautiful stories and articles.
Social media play a vital role in the strategy as well as the blog, which relates to fascinating proper content. In this case, the guide invests more in the Chefs than in the restaurants to create a link with customers. The guide also establishes the buzz for its controversial way of ranking restaurants.
Both guides are, in a way, contributing to give their instant of glory to restaurants and chefs buy communicating on them but also by attracting the eye of journalists on them finally as many others guides on another scale. But is this contributing to building a Chef’s or a restaurant’s strong brand?
From my point of view, what makes the difference between both is that the emotional link is created in two different ways. The Michelin guide focusses on the guide itself, whereas restaurants are just part of the guide’s content. The World’s 50 Best makes create a whole story around restaurants and Chefs, which are ranked in the manual. Il also creates content about them all year long on the blog and invests in them. We thus have, on one side, a ranking based on the product and, on the other hand, a classification based on people, and this creates a huge difference.
Does chef get a benefit from these gastronomic guides in terms of branding?
They, for sure, get a benefit from the visibility given by being in the guide, but building a brand is not only about clarity, but it is also about values and identity. If you do make substantial brand equity, you won’t build a strong brand. Brands build starts from inside first, so guides are just a kind of tool for restaurants and restaurateurs. I would just give you the example of Paul Bocuse, but also of René Redzepi and Ferran Adrià, who just stand out because of who they are referring to their values. They all built their brand based on their values, and they are investing in them. Would they have had the same success if they were not ranked on the top of the Michelin or World’s 50 Best guides? The answer is probably no because the ranking gave them more power to act.
On the other hand, they invested time and money in their brand through strong storytelling, which helped them to stay on the top.
See, for example, Paul Bocuse’s restaurant building, which is just about him and his story and the story of his restaurant. Gastronomic guides are a kind of leverage for brand development. Now, if they were ranked without thinking of building a strong brand, they would undoubtedly have had the same success in the short term, but without the emotional link created by the brand, they would just slowly let their place to others who invested in it. Have a look at this article presenting the challenges of Parisian Palaces. Chefs who didn’t invest in their brand didn’t succeed and were just pushed away. Other Chefs took their place.
What you have to remember is that you have to define your brand equity before you start communicating.
Define who you are and what you stand for first, and if you get a reward from any guide, take it as a business value and invest in it but once again, don’t forget who you are. You create your brand, which is the key to your success and the most energetic added value of your company.