Do One Thing Very Well

Beignets from Cafe Du Monde

During my most recent visit to New Orleans, Tom Martin took me to the Cafe Du Monde, a famous coffee place in the French Quarter. That little pastry and powdered sugar delicacy up there is called a beignet, and the Cafe Du Monde is famous for them. When you look at their little menu, though there are a few other things tucked on there, it’s pretty much all about beignets and coffee. In fact, I’m going to venture that ordering anything other than a beignet is a signal for surly bouncers to come out, brandishing butcher knives, and chase you out of the cafe.

Imagine you’re the owners. You’re making a reasonable revenue, but say you want to bump it up. Do you add things to the menu? Do you make a raspberry-filled beignet? Do you offer NEW! Beignet-minis! (exclamation points extra), or do you franchise out, and put your beignets at every gas station?

For whatever reason, it seems obvious when we use this example that one has to treat the brand carefully, that there are so many ways to hurt things on the way to expansion. But other times, with other products, we don’t tread as carefully. Why?

Not every brand has to be a sole product experience. We’re okay with Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Cherry Coke, for instance. But for others, and I’d suggest Cafe Du Monde’s Beignets are in this category, sticking to a core product and experience is key.

How do you evaluate the products or services you offer? What makes you decide what to do with regards to your brands? And when you turn that lens on you, how do you fare? (My answer: not so well. I’m a jumble.)

What’s your take?

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