Successful and beloved in their original locations, Rusty Bucket needed to refine its positioning and increase awareness before expanding broadly nationally. As casual dining is a highly competitive space – the ability to clearly communicate and stand out in a crowd are keys to success.  With a strong neighborhood following and a great story to tell, AF&Co was tasked with bringing the best of the ‘Bucket’ to the table. Our team conducted guest and team member roundtables to develop a qualitative understanding of the brand’s resonance.  The research suggested that the “multi-location casual dining category” is awash in similarities, with many restaurants espousing the same claims regarding value, speed and comfort.


The experience was also being miscategorized as a “sports bar,” when in fact it is a “grown up place to bring the kids.”  To help Rusty Bucket break out in the category, AF&Co identified key differentiators, new brand pillars and an evolved brand story which were then tested quantitatively with an outside research partner. Weaving together a narrative of the concept’s strengths including, handcrafted drinks, a scratch kitchen and neighborhood engagement – a new design agency was brought in and a new brand look and messaging were rolled out. Menu adjustments and new promotions continue to be rolled out based on the project findings.  The results: Rusty Bucket is resonating better than ever with it’s known following and brand awareness nationally is rising. Plans for expansion continue on the heels of a successful introduction of brunch items, new happy hour and an updated menu.

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