What is Restaurant Brandjacking?

Brandjacking is a term used to describe a form of brand equity theft. It’s derived from the words branding & jacking to show how one company may profit from another company’s name. It’s currently rife in the hospitality industry with many restaurant owners not even aware of its existence.

Essentially, the organisation doing the ‘jacking’ uses the interest in a brand, and creates visibility where others may search for it, in an attempt to profit.

You’re probably already familiar brandjacking in some form - fake celebrity accounts on Instagram or 3rd party companies bidding on a hotel brand name in Google Adwords.

For this restaurant focused article, we’re going to look at Google Adwords and discuss the pros & cons of brandjacking even when it’s approved.

#1 - Google Adwords

Adwords is a marketing product, by Google, that allows businesses to appear above the organic search results. This creates visibility in a premium position and usually results in website traffic clicking through to the advertisers website.

As we’re a marketing company, that uses Google Adwords for our clients and our own business, we can say that it can be a very effective method to bring customers to a website.

Take a look at this snippet from Google when we search for “Henrys Cronulla”. There is a Google Adwords ad, by Dimmi, that appears in the top position.

brandjacking - google SERPS

#2 - Why is this Brandjacking?

In the above example, Dimmi are using their Adwords settings to bid on the brand name “Henrys Cronulla”. They are attempting to win search traffic from users whose intent was to find Henrys.

This great video by SBS explains more

#3 - Pros

Immediately there are some pros to having a reputable restaurant booking service have visibility. There’s brand trust, which is a factor for some people when booking a restaurant online, and there are also features with which people may be familiar - such as a section for independent reviews.

#4 - Cons

  1. Ordinarily, third party restaurant booking providers (that charge a per person fee), charge more when the booking doesn’t occur directly on the restaurant’s own website.

  2. The user misses out on the restaurant’s website experience and the chance to see events, special menus, read their story, images and see their blog.

  3. If the user doesn’t visit the website, they won’t trigger any remarketing events. As customer retention becomes more and more important, this point is critical.

  4. The ad itself can actually deter a booking. In the above example, Dimmi are advertising other cuisines such as Indian or Mexican.

  5. Once on the third party website, users may be shown other restaurants, such as ‘customers also dined at xxx’. This may result in a lost booking.

#5 - What can restaurant owners do?

Talk to their booking provider rep. They may be willing to modify their Adwords strategy or help restaurant owners understand any additional benefits not covered in this article.

Or switch to a booking system that charges a flat monthly rate and doesn’t brandjack.

#6 - Summary

From speaking to many restaurant owners, there’s growing concern over the practice of brandjacking but there’s just as much concern about losing third party bookings.

One piece of advice we’re giving to all of our restaurant partners is that owning your brand, the booking experience, the ability to retarget customers is very powerful and provides a large marketing opportunity - particularly with retention.

Clive Morley