brand experience brief: sweetgreen

Brand Experience Week draws to a close today with a Brand Experience Brief about a great brand in the making.  This video audit and analysis introduces sweetgreen, a 30-unit salad quick serve restaurant concept, that brings the company mission and values to life in every aspect of the customer experience.

DLYohn Brand Experience Brief: sweetgreen from Denise Lee Yohn on Vimeo.

I’ve hope this week has provided good fodder for your customer experience design efforts.

  • SuperChix, a new test restaurant concept from Yum Brands, provided proof that fast food can be good food and a great experience.
  • Evolution Fresh, the new juice concept from Starbucks, showed how to take a niche offering mainstream.
  • The brick-and-mortar experiences of two e-commerce brands, Bonobos and Warby Parker, offered learnings for opening brick-and-mortar locations.
  • The store experiences of two packaged foods brands, Dannon and Chobani, showed how to bring to life different brand identities and personalities.
  • And, I hope you were inspired today to build a great brand like sweetgreen.

Thanks for watching these. You can check out ever more Brand Experience Briefs here.  And to suggest new or interesting retail and restaurant concepts for me to cover in the future, use the comments section below.


For the last day of Brand Experience Brief week, I’m sharing with you the quick-serve restaurant chain sweetgreen which has around 30 units in the Northeast. Although thousands of new quick-serves open every year, sweetgreen stands out and has caught the eye of the NY Times, WSJ, and Fast Company because it shows a very different way to create and run a restaurant concept.

You see, sweetgreen was founded 7 years ago by three conscientious college students who were frustrated by the lack of healthy places to eat in D.C. So they created a restaurant to be as much about what it values as what it serves.

I recently visited the Dupont Circle location where I ordered The Guacamole Greens, a huge bowl of greens, avocado, and all sorts of other yumminess. All of sweetgreen’s salads are made of organic and locally sourced ingredients and all-natural, hormone and antibiotic free meats, and assembled right in front of you by high energy, enthusiastic servers.
The stores also serve organic, cold-pressed bottled juices named for their benefits like hydrate and cleanse. And in lieu of fountain drinks, you can have drinks like a cucumber limeaid.

Engaging outside of your four walls is critical to brand success these days and sweetgreen has this ground covered. You can order online seamlessly, t-shirts and other swag can be purchased on the website, its napkins inspire creative thinking to share on Instagram, and the sweetgreen app allows you to pay with your phone, unlock loyalty rewards, and contribute to charities.

Down to the straws, sweetgreen is environmentally friendly. All packaging is 100% plant-based compostable. And it uses reclaimed and FSC certified materials in its buildings, furniture and décor. The design is streamlined, using basic wood, metal, and enameled and painted brick.

The tone of the restaurant is set mostly by the chalkboard signs and quotes from characters like ferris bueller and singer songwriter lana del rey. And there is a large the sweetgreen manifesto sign, which conveys the personality and values of the company.

It’s clear the manifesto isn’t just words on a wall at sweetgreen. The brand touches different areas of people’s lives and communities. It partners with like-minded community organizations including Food Corps, it offers the sweetgreen passport which gives members free access to local fitness classes, and it sponsors sweetlife, an annual music and food festival whose proceeds are donated to the sweetgreen in schools program.

It’s remarkable how the company really lives out its mission to “create experiences where passion and purpose come together” especially given that it is relatively small and relatively young. But that’s what great brands do, and I suspect sweetgreen is a great brand in the making because it is clear about its purpose and values, it’s designed its customer experience down to the details to embody them, and it executes with operational excellence on them.

So, there you have it – the last of the five Brand Experience Briefs this week. Monday was about SuperChix, a test concept from Yum Brands that shows fast food can be good food.

On Tuesday I audited and analyzed Evolution Fresh, the new juice concept from Starbucks to show how to take a niche offering mainstream. Wednesday’s brief compared the brick-and-mortar experiences of two e-commerce brands, Bonobos and Warby Parker. Yesterday, I showed you how two packaged foods brands, Dannon and Chobani, created retail experiences to bring to life their different brands, and today, I hope you’ve been inspired to build a great brand like sweetgreen.

There are lots of other Brand Experience Briefs for you to learn from – check them out at the URL on the screen. Thanks for watching!

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,