If ever there was a food in need of a brand makeover, the noble pizza would be up high on the list
. Beloved by young, old and underutilized interventional cardiologists
alike, the 3 billion pizzas served up in the US each year amount to 46 slices for each of the 94% of all Americans who admit to eating pizza
. Although popular, the delicious cheesy dish isn't always known for a positive brand image . . . or heart-healthy content. Indeed, the perennially popular pepperoni will exact its revenge: three slices from a 12-inch Papa John's Thin Crust Pepperoni Pizza will fill your belly and arteries with 800 calories, 48 grams of total fat and a whopping 1,860 mg of sodium
(the recommended dose of sodium for an entire day tops out at 2,400 miligrams
). Add to the mix well-publicized brand fails of employee mishaps (remember the Dominos
case in 2009 with this revolting employee video
) and you have a branding challenge only the siren song
of fat, sugar and refined flour can overcome.
Enter Naked Pizza
, one of the most-expertly executed branded pizza-makers to hit cities such as San Diego, Miami, Boston, Cincinnati, Louisville, and soon The Big Apple where it will compete with the estimated 9,000 other pizza purveyors in NY
. Originated in New Orleans in 2006 "in a 500-square-foot building that took in six feet of water after Hurricane Katrina,
" Naked Pizza has injected the pizza franchising world with stunning, clean and fresh design in their logo, brochures and website to remind even the most jaded consumer of the multiple Meat Lovers
that pizza can be
fresh and healthy. Hence, the word "naked," with nothing to hide (the playful double entendre of course adds to the brand's insouciant pluck -- the company was originally named the more prosaic "World's Healthiest Pizza
"). Even the napkins tell it like it is, which in light of our BrandCultureTalk "no bull" promise
, we rather like.
In keeping with the brand's commitment to transparency, Naked Pizza also proudly hosts the LivNaked Blog
, which boasts "What we're about." Sprinkle in a healthy dose of (and deft touch with) social media, and consumers can interact with the brand through a behind-the-scenes peak into the employees (literally on a Flickr stream), understand what goes into making their pizza and where the ingredients come from, and how they can continue to develop their relationship with the brand across social media channels. [We're hardly the first to note the company's social media prowess. Other leading outlets like The New York Times
and even irascible billionaire Mark Cuban
have voted with their prominent posts and wallet, respectively ]. The Naked Pizza brochure breaks down their pizza-making process with raw questions such as "Ten grains in the crust? Really?" and "What's prebiotic agave fiber? Will I wake up with a Bengal tiger in my bed the next morning?" and "What's with all the social media?" This is certainly the patois of a brand that's proud of its healthy-earthy credentials, but doesn't take itself too seriously -- all delivering a consistent, proprietary and fresh brand experience.
Diners experience the high-tech, transparent vibe inside the store as well, transforming what really is a cramped facility footprint (800 - 1200 square feet with 70% - 80% of a typical Naked Pizza outlet's business being delivery
) into a highly engaging, interactive brand experience including giant QR codes in the store front and iPads adorn the counters with neon green walls — taken right from their logo palette.
What's the verdict? We think there are some smart folks (and brand-builders) running Naked Pizza who have reimagined a global treat into a new, healthier incarnation. But don't trust us, trust the numbers. Social analytic firm DigitalCoCo
just ranked Naked Pizza among the top five most influential casual brand concepts
. That's some boffo brand-building that builds the bottom line. Bravo.