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Denny’s: A Brand Voice for Every Palate

Posted 16 June 2016 11:30 AM by Julia Fox MoxieUSA, @juliafoxforce5

Denny’s: A Brand Voice for Every Palate

When it comes to timely meme references and breakfast-themed puns, no one seems to do it better than Denny’s. The brand’s Tumblr and Twitter pages have made headlines with their strange content and dramatic appeal to young audiences, while Denny’s Facebook doesn’t seem to share in the absurdity. Yet what may seem like an inconsistent approach across social is anything but: Denny’s is systematically and strategically proving the importance of not only knowing your audience, but also understanding how it changes demographically across different mediums.

A study published in the Journal of Advertising found that “the optimal amount of entertainment differs by type of entertainment and target group.” This is the rule that Denny’s has abided by and, in doing so, has found success. Looking at the brand’s Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook accounts, we can see a clear example of how altering a brand’s tone across its various audiences can lead to tangible success. And according to an article in Entrepreneur, in less than two years spanning 2013 and 2015, Denny’s received a “total of more than 900 million social impressions and 15 million engagements” and increased its “follow and fan growth by 150 percent.” That’s a grand slam.

According to the Pew Research Center, the vast majority of Tumblr users are under 30 years old — a statistic not as true for Twitter and even less so for Facebook. Armed with this stat, it only makes sense for Denny’s to alter its voice, tone and content to better reach and relate to Tumblr’s younger audience, which tends to be connected to more marginalized internet cultures than its Facebook and even Twitter counterparts. The Denny’s Tumblr page features seemingly infinite puns, moderately obscure meme references and altered images that look like something off of the Tim and Eric Awesome Show.

In contrast — and in keeping with this same logic — Denny’s Facebook posts look like your average restaurant brand (i.e., posts of new hamburger options and updates on when kids can eat for free). It fits its audience perfectly. If Denny’s were to populate its Facebook page with its Tumblr content, it would be fairly unintelligible — or even perhaps a bit frightening and alienating — to the brand’s Facebook crowd.

When Denny’s Tumblr content delves far into the absurd, its Twitter feed tends to be slightly more mainstream. The differences in each channel’s tone and content are a direct reflection of the important and tested theory that the success of humorous and entertaining content is directly connected to the target audience. Young audiences show a huge preference for brands to fit their personality, and Denny’s Tumblr and Twitter voices — both directed to a younger audience — are reflective of that trend. Humor works best “when there is communal understanding” between the consumer and the brand, and Denny’s is doing precisely that. Through this humor, the brand is proving that it understands its young audience on a level deeper than just what they want out of their breakfast food.

By taking advantage of demographic knowledge and a successfully youthful brand voice on specific channels, Denny’s is able to appeal to fans of all ages. As social media platforms become more popular among people of all walks of life — and as brands have the experience and courage to explore their own voices — the need to maintain a sense unity while still serving very different groups is becoming more important and challenging. Not every brand will be able to (or even want to) go off on the radical path that Denny’s is forging, but the lesson still rings true: Each social platform is unique in its demographic makeup and therefore demands its own altered tone. When we consider each audience and the specific channels we use to reach them, it pays off.

Author: Julia Fox, Strategy Intern 

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