This well-known chain of themed bars was responding to a steady decline in key brand tracking numbers, which suggested it was losing ground to rivals that were perceived by the target market as being more contemporary and authentic.

The company commissioned Brandspeak to conduct research in to the issues identified by the tracking, as part of a comprehensive, strategic review of its UK operations.


Our successful proposal recommended an assessment of:

  • The chain’s main theme – and how it should evolve to take account of changing consumer tastes, without sacrificing its origins
  • The in-venue, customer experience – and how well it catered for the needs and expectations of different consumer groups, both on different socialising occasions and on different days of the week
  • The balance between venue as bar and venue as eatery. Where was the ideal balance and what did this mean in practice?
  • The quality and range of food and drink on offer
  • The quality of entertainment and themed events on offer

The Brandspeak team set about its task with considerable enthusiasm! Together with the client team we undertook a number of Brand Safari’s, visiting own and competitor outlets in London, Bristol and Manchester. These were followed by workshops to develop solution hypotheses regarding all of the key issues to be addressed via the project.

We then used a variety of research approaches to challenge / confirm these hypotheses with consumers, using 3 different bars in different locations UK-wide. These approaches included trialling:

  • An enhanced brand positioning
  • Different, in-venue expressions of the core brand, including visual theming (branding and décor) and experiential theming (entertainment, menu and customer service)
  • Different drinks / food offers and promotions
  • Enhanced levels of service
  • New décor

Research approaches included:

  • Accompanied, in-bar, experience capture
  • Customers capturing and reporting their experiences via mobile over a number several visits
  • Extended online community
  • In-bar workshops


The project made a fundamental contribution to the development of the strategic and operational blueprint for the bar chain in the UK – with an enhanced brand positioning at its core.

That vision was trialled (and quantitatively assessed by Brandspeak) in 2 venues and is now being rolled out across the UK