Monday, August 31, 2009

The Guy Fieri brand is "the real deal"

Guy Fieri is his own brand; he's just calling it "Knuckle Sandwich." Witness the Knuckle Sandwich products available on, the Knuckle Sandwich Ergo Chef knives, the Knuckle Sandwich NASCAR and the upcoming Knuckle Sandwich road show.

I asked and received permission from Blaine Parker, who runs Slow Burn Marketing, to re-publish his newsletter on branding (the corporate kind; not the cow kind). Read the full article here.



Sunday afternoon, I stumbled upon a Food Network series that tells the stories of their TV personalities.

The episode in question was about the life and career of Guy Fieri.

What came out of that program was a striking lesson in brand authenticity.

If you’re not sure who Guy is, you may have seen him hosting one of the single most popular shows on the Food Network, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. He’s a loud, happy, joking guy with spiky blond hair, a goatee, and a fondness for wrap-around sunglasses, bowling shirts and bling.

Guy’s own cooking is wild. His Johnny Garlic Pasta Grill restaurants offer a bold and brash menu of items like deep-fried artichoke hearts, Cajun chicken Alfredo, and Lava Shrimp Sautee. His Tex Wasabi’s Sushi BBQ restaurants are as twisted as it gets, ranging from ribs & steak to nigiri & maki to items like the Jackass Roll, which is a rice & tapioca paper sushi roll of barbecued pulled pork, French fries, and avocado with a garlic chili mayo sauce.


Of all the celebrity chefs who populate the Food Network’s programming, Guy Fieri is the one whom you’re most likely to want to sit down and have a beer with.

That, or you find him the most infuriating.

Guy Fieri’s brand simply isn’t for everyone.

But the thing that’s really stunning about Guy is that his brand is The Real Deal.

He is not a manufactured personality. He isn’t the product of executive consultation. He is exactly who he appears to be: a tattooed nutcase with a kitchen ladle.

His menus reflect that.

And his personality permeates everything about the Guy Fieri brand.


Previously, we’ve talked about how important brand is to even the smallest business. Knowing who you are and how you’re going to convey that to your public is key.

So many small businesses, especially in radio advertising where so many of us live, have no brand identity.

They think because they have a logo or a jingle or a lame slogan, they have a brand.

“For all your widget needs” is not a brand. It’s lazy, sloppy thinking.

A brand is huge.

A brand is who you are and what you mean to people.

In the case of Guy Fieri, the brand is a crazy guy with a nutty sense of humor who feeds people in a fun, bold and flavorful way.


That’s why he’s such a great example of branding: the wild and crazy restaurant brands of Johnny Garlic and Tex Wasabi would be forced and inauthentic and probably not too successful–if there weren’t an equally wild and crazy man behind them.

When Dorothy & Toto pulled back the curtain, they found a pathetic old man pulling levers and blowing smoke.

You pull back the curtain at Johnny Garlic’s, and there’s a wackjob whose flames are even bigger than in the kitchen.

That’s not to say every business owner is Mr. Toad, and every business’s brand needs to be his Wild Ride. That would be silly.

The point is that every small business brand is in some way a reflection of the business owner’s personality–and that personality typically infuses everything that happens in the business.




(The brand is) always going to start with the business owner.

That individual’s personality is the core of the brand.

How they run the company, what they choose to sell, how they treat their customers, their philosophy on life–everything about all those business choices is the basis for brand. That, and the kind of person the business owner is. These are gold.


These are not things you can fake.

These are the essential components to brand authenticity.

And they MUST be found before any truly effective advertising campaign can take place.


Brand is essential, authenticity is king, and you can take that to the bank wrapped in a Tex Wasabi Jackass Roll.

As always,

Blaine Parker
Your Short, Fat Creative Director in
Park City


Related Posts:
Rock Fantasies, Pork Promos, Ribbon Cutting and Cook with your Kids
Will the real Guy Fieri please Twitter
Critique of TGIF tie-in with Food Network and URS-2


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