It’s incredible when a well-known brand is able to change up their advertising strategy, whether it’s a new slogan or logo, and come out unscathed by the general public. Seriously, people connect with their favorite brands and change is hard. That’s why we should all tip our hats and give a round of applause to the late night mogul, Taco Bell. They don’t have a “special sauce” that they advertise, but they certainly have a “special sauce” when it comes to their marketing.

Taco Bell has had a few rough patches throughout the years, there’s no denying that, but instead of quietly disappearing into the background they’ve come back stronger and smarter than ever. They have never been shy about their marketing and are bold in the way they reinvent themselves, even introducing French fries to their menu in January 2018.

How has Taco Bell found such extraordinary success?

Taco Bell Reinvents Themselves

Taco Bell dares to constantly change up their branding strategy and try something new. As the world evolves with new graphic design trends, changing societal rules, and updated technology, their company logo needs to evolve to reflect those times. It wouldn’t make sense to use the same logo they used during their humble beginnings, not when so much has changed for the fast food juggernaut.

Taco Bell Knows Who They Are

Being genuine and true to who you are as a person gets you more friends, right? The same idea applies to brands. Taco Bell is a Mexican quick-serve restaurant, not a five-star restaurant, and they’ve accepted that. While other restaurants may downplay the fact they offer a drive-thru, Taco Bell proudly stands behind that fact with a self-aware sense of humor and a late night menu. We all know where to go at 3 AM after celebrating our friend’s birthday.

Their food may seem unhealthy and stomach turning, but sometimes that’s exactly what we want. Something crunchy, affordable, and fast. Taco Bell knows they’re catering to people with a few dollars in their pocket and the munchies. That’s why they get inventive with their menu, offering items such as the Black Jack Taco, Kit Kat Quesadilla, and Beefy Fritos Burrito. However, they never stray too far from their roots, making sure to also sell old-fashioned favorites like: tacos, nachos, burritos, and quesadillas. They haven’t forgotten the staples that made them famous in the first place.

Taco Bell Embraces Their Target Market

Taco Bell seems to be aware that their target market is those of us between 18 to 34 years old who love a taco or two or three when it’s late at night and you’re coming home from a concert or bar. Keeping up with the times, Taco Bell also knows that this demographic is also looking for vegan options on the menu. This is why they’ve added better options for those late night snackers, like bean burritos and veggie bowls.

Aside from all that, Taco Bell dares to be different and to do bold things that appeal to the millennials they want to target. The Doritos® Locos Tacos Supreme made $1 million a day when it first debuted, and in 2019 Taco Bell’s pop-up hotel sold out of reservations. These daring marketing stunts are what help Taco Bell win the young crowd time and time again.

You’ll notice that their ads often feature the “in crowd,” enjoying their meal in the parking lot while the sky is dark and starry. Their brand is cheeky and self-aware, so much so that during Super Bowl XLVII, they introduced a commercial with a bunch of rowdy, elderly folk partying in the late night parking lot. It was a self-aware wink that their target market can be not just millennials, but anyone that wants a good taco supreme.

Taco Bell Has Social Media Figured Out

Some brands just beg to have their pages liked, but don’t come through by saying something interesting. This makes them a nuisance on social media rather than a welcome part of your thread. It could be that they post way too often, their postings are too salesy, or a horrible combination of the two. Taco Bell has figured out how to speak directly to their audience, more like a personal friend than a business.

Their posts aren’t revolutionary, just down to earth and comical. When people are on these social sites, they’re using them to connect, whether it’s with friends, family, that ex from high school, or a company. People want to interact with people, not an emotionless entity. Don’t try to be your customer’s best friend, just be genuine. Take Taco Bell’s Twitter feed, for example, which shows that as a company you can promote yourself and people won’t unfollow you:

When Did Taco Bell Open?

Source: foodimentary.com

Glen Bell started the first “Taco Bell” at the age of 23 – a hot dog stand that included hamburgers, milkshakes, and naturally, tacos on the menu. It was eventually called “Taco Tia.” In 1962, Bell sold all four of his Taco Tia locations and opened the very first Taco Bell in Downey, California, the same town that opened the very first McDonald’s!

Taco Bell is by no means a perfect company, but they seem to have a lot of things figured out when it comes to understanding their customers. They are willing to reinvent themselves, know who they are as a company, understand their target market, and stay with the times on social media.

Not every brand should start making tacos (seriously, who wants to eat a taco made by their dentist), but every business can certainly use some of Taco Bell’s “special marketing sauce.”

References

Bellomo, R. (2015, October 2). Taco Bell is Making History With Its New Menu Overhaul. Retrieved from, https://www.delish.com/food-news/a44095/taco-bell-certified-vegetarian-menu/

Foodimentary. (2012, March 21). A History of Taco Bell. Retrieved from, https://foodimentary.com/2012/03/21/march-21-national-crunchy-taco-day/

About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over four years of experience in the industry. She is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products and has had work published for the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialty Institute.