Client Spotlight

Burgerville USA is a 49 year old, 39-unit restaurant chain operating in southwest Washington and Oregon.


Over the years, Burgerville has built a reputation for their sustainable business practices and the use of locally grown ingredients. Unfortunately in the process, however, their brand perception had come to be more about those business practices and less about the quality or uniqueness of their food.

( Enter N2O )

In October of 2008, N2O was contacted with a charter to help this aging brand revitalize itself in order to achieve a growth plan that included more than doubling in size and the number of operational units by 2015. After undertaking a comprehensive review of the current competitive landscape including existing qualitative and quantitative research and performing some primary research of our own, N2O devised a strategic roadmap that addressed everything from menu and recipe shifts, to new branding, positioning, sponsorships and local store marketing. In particular, we suggested that the firm expand the discussion beyond the operational (“sustainability”) into the emotional (gourmet ingredients) and target a subset of quick service consumers that we identified as “Poor Gourmets.”

An overall brand modernization began by first modernizing the Burgerville logo. We evolved their logo into a more contemporary mark and introduced a tagline that spoke to these “poor gourmets” while still paying tribute to the quality of their food.

( Transforming “Fast Food” Expectations )


First and foremost, we needed to not just transform whom we were targeting and what we were saying, but more importantly, we needed to transform the menu itself to be more inspired, sophisticated and culturally plugged in. Our goal was to move away from standard fast food and more toward “slow food” that just happens to be served fast.

So in addition to shifting the visual cues (updated logo, new photographic style and graphical design and elements) we also shifted the overall messaging and media and promotional strategy (tag-line, positioning, menu names and descriptors, traditional and digital media strategy) and began speaking about menu items using typical “gourmet” terms and language. Simultaneously, we hired an accomplished Master Sommelier to prepare and help us launch a beer and wine menu that was introduced in Burgerville’s flagship store. Next we introduced a mobile kitchen (the Burgerville Nomad) that we designed and branded for test marketing new geographies and sponsorship opportunities.

By any measure, the new strategy and promotional execution yielded rapid and dramatic results, including a few prestigious national awards.

( The Result )

  • Between January and June of 2009 (the new strategy launched in February 2009), first time trial among new guests to the chain increased by 5% (source: Sandelman research). During the same period, top box ratings on taste and flavor scores also increased by 8% (source: Sandelman research)
  • Similarly, Sandelman-tracked ratings on overall experience also grew by 6% while perceptions of healthy and nutritious options spiked, growing by over 15%
  • Base level awareness also increased with unaided Advertising Awareness doubling year over year.
  • QSR Magazine in conjunction with the national restaurant Association selected Burgerville CEO Jeff Harvey as one of the top 10 innovators in the restaurant/food service industry based on the launch and impact of the 2009 gourmet-on-the-go strategy.
  • Burgerville was selected for a Menu Master’s Award as the 2010 National Menu Trendsetter by Nation’s Restaurant News.
  • For the first time in the Company’s 48-year history, Burgerville earned a golden Chain Award also from Nation’s Restaurant News and was a finalist for the Operator of the Year award.
  • While shifts in the demographic of guests is important and improvements in taste, flavor and menu scores can’t be ignored, (and who doesn’t love to receive industry awards and accolades?!), at the end of the day guest counts and guest spending are what make or break a restaurant. And as with these other performance metrics, Burgerville has seen marked improvement on average spending per guest since launching this new strategy.
  • Spending per guest increased by 7% since shifting to the new seasonal monthly gourmet menu selections.

A collection of :15 second television spots that ran in local markets to announce seasonal ingredients.

A collection of :60 second radio spots that ran in local markets. To listen, click on the gold triangle.

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Billboards used provocative headlines to acknowledge the firm’s cult-like following and emphasize their commitment to fresh, local ingredients.


New Menu Boards inside the restaurants also complement all of the new Point Of Sale showcasing the various dishes the N2O team helped to concoct.


New POS was designed to showcase the the food in a more dramatic way, making use of traditional gourmet descriptors and hyperbole based headlines.


To lend a sense of cohesiveness across all brand communications, N2O applied the same dynamic graphic design to new gift cards.

Gift Cards

Along with the initial go-to-market expansion plan, N2O designed and created all of the naming, branding and identity work for a mobile kitchen to expand into new markets.

BV Nomad