IHOb: Intentionally Hurting Our branding

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IHOP becoming IHOb is a hot topic here at Americom. When it comes to branding, we all have our educated opinions...but when it's food branding, things can get pretty intense. Here's a look at what our millennials think about this name change.

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We really, really like IHOP. Their coffee is delicious. Their French toast is outstanding. Even some of their dinner items are above-average! Pancakes are probably the worst item they have. So it makes sense that they’d want to pack it up and put some distance between their persona and the pan-fried pastry.

But here’s the problem:
IHOB is a terrible, terrible, terrible, name. But no, that isn’t the worst of it. I’m assuming the B stands for breakfast—what? Half of the menu is dedicated to dinner! Maybe the B stands for Bad Idea. Maybe it stands for Bacon, which always comes out somehow both dry and undercooked. It sure doesn’t stand for Branding, because they’re turning that upside down for absolutely no reason.

The old name was great. The P is perfect. It packs plenty of plosive pop. Plus, IHOP is an implied positive action. I hop, as in I’m hopping over to this restaurant because it’s so good. The P even looks like someone licking her lips because the anticipation of a hot breakfast (or dinner or dessert or just coffee because you’re broke with your other teenage friends and you’re too young to get into a bar) is so enticing that it actually evokes a rare shred of primal feeling.

But not anymore.
No, now IHOBble in and get a greasy mess on a plate, because there’s still a senior discount, and you need to get out before the drunks and teenagers hobble in. The B sound is boring. It’s basic. It’s barely blocking the dribble from your chin as you slur a once-iconic business’s drab new branding.

Are you going for a brunch situation here? Because no one is begging IHOP for brunch. Late breakfast? Breakfast for dinner? Beef tips with broccoli because you’re trying to eat a little better and your family is going there after church? Sure.

The real question is:
Was there some problem in public understanding of what IHOP is? Do people presume IHOP only prepares pancakes? They have a huge national advertising budget, but the only mention of pancakes we actually see is when they’re celebrating National Pancake Day, a holiday so important to the public perception of the breakfast treat that the leading producer of pancakes actually gives them away.

They’re celebrating 60 years, but have non-pancake sales suddenly plunged off a precipice? We all get it. It’s 2018. You think you have to shake things up. Heck, even Ogilvy is rebranding.

But joining the milieu of edible-to-sometimes-tasty casual dining isn’t for you, IHOP. You’re not just a breakfast joint. You’re the International House of Pancakes, you’re the experts on the subject. You should know better.

So IHOBye-bye, IHOP. It’s been a great run. We'll see you 2-3 times per quarter, as always. And we're going to order pancakes.

Blake Royer, Digital Marketing Director. | Americom Marketing

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As Southerners, we all know Waffle House is the clear winner when it comes to breakfast outings. We're also aware that IHOP is one of the most well-known national chains for breakfast foods. Even if we will forever choose Waffle House when given the option, changing the name from IHOP to IHOb is in line with Pluto having it's planet status taken away.

Perhaps they are doing the same kind of rebranding that Domino's did a six years back, changing pancakes to breakfast because they're more than just pancakes now...except Domino's did it better.

IHOP is marketing this rebrand on social media as "We’re flippin’ our name to IHOb. That’s right, with a “b.” Find out what it could b on 6.11.18. #IHOb"

So not IHOB...it's a lowercase b. Is that significant to what will define the b? If it's for breakfast...wouldn't it be capitalized? Were they too lazy to create a capital B? Let's just be lazy and flip the p to look like a lowercase b...all while losing the subtlety of the face in the logo. Then again...should it really have been IHoP to begin with?

Are they trying to be trendy? Trying to jump on the Circle Game but right side up? Trying to incorporate an abstract left-handed version of the "okay" emoji ???! (That's actually an appropriate reasoning because it happens to be a great way to describe their food...it's just okay.)

Whichever reason, the internet is "flippin'" out over this name change and rightly so. IHOP/IHOb seems to be getting more mentions now than even their most successful Pancake Day, so it's currently working in terms of generating conversation about the restaurant...but will it "b" worth it?

We think it will be more of a "flop" than a "flip."

Amanda Prince, Social Media Manager | Americom Marketing

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