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4 minutes

What’s your signature dish? What story did it tell during the pandemic?

by Julie Perkins

An artist finds their own style, an author finds their own voice and a chef finds their own showcase!

Having a signature dish represents a bigger, broader picture than the dish itself and, to slightly pivot a phrase, “a dish can say a thousand words.” What is in a signature dish reflects what the chef or restaurant stands for, their unique style, their taste and what they value in their food and the overall experience when eating it. It gives an identity through a consistent visual and voice.

The most valuable part of a signature dish is that it tells a story and in most cases this is the origin of the restaurant itself; an authentic, true reflection of the purpose that captures the values, passion and commitment of the owners in the making of that dish. It’s an extension of themselves.

The power of it, however, extends beyond the dish itself. A truly unique signature dish reflects and inspires the entire restaurant, its people, ambiance, extended suppliers and in some cases, it might represent social issues that affect the community it’s a part of – be it health or buying local for example. It’s only a true signature dish if it has this ripple effect. 

Take Gordon Ramsay and his Beef Wellington with the unique twist of wrapping it in parma ham. This bold dish reflects him – distinguished, committed to perfection and quality, and an unwavering determination to make perfect from what is deemed as complex. 

The same can in fact be said for the signature dish of KFC. Well, actually it’s a recipe for the batter, which they say is currently held in a safe inside a vault in KFC’s Louisville HQ, along with eleven vials containing the herbs and spices. Whether it’s true or not doesn’t necessarily matter as it makes a great cover story, one that is so strong that in 2019 – 70 years on since the creation of the original recipe – KFC ran the “chicken town advert” thanking those that had tried to replicate it.  

This is more than brand identity, leading with this confidence can only be done when the origin of the unique  stories and the history still lead the way, not a picture on a distant board room wall. For Colonel Sanders and his signature unique taste, there is still nothing that can replace it in leading awareness and growth 70 years on. “There’s only one colonel in chicken town.”

Over the past year, small and medium-sized businesses have had to survive through crisis management making perhaps reactionary, strategic decisions to stay relevant and available to their customers and the community they serve. We have been in situations where we have had to make tough calls that have created different paths or altered the path we were on.

Although Covid is far from over, knowing more about solutions begins to slow down the need for quick, reactionary strategies of change, and there is a definitive shift towards a more proactive, longer planning viewpoint into the future. 

The time we’re in now is a transitional period where patterns are beginning to form based on what remains to be needed and what was a support when Covid was at its peak.

Like a snow globe, you have been shaken and now this time is allowing things to settle and an opportunity to look at where you are positioned after the storm. This period needs a plan as much as a crisis does because it has the potential to strengthen the core of your business and launch your company into a post-Covid era more effectively. It’s a time to review, regroup, repair and redistribute efforts and focus. 

So, how does your signature dish help you here?

Review: To get started, ask the right questions. Ask yourself, what is your signature dish? What story did it tell during the pandemic? It will give you the answer to a broader picture. Begin with the origin of you and your company. As with chefs and global fast food enterprises, the signature dish represents more than the brand itself, it opens up other considerations. For example, how are your values being translated? Does the dish still tell your story and showcase the way you work to achieve what you do? 

Regroup: looking upon your signature dish, is your purpose and are your values standing out enough to be clearly understood? Are you still achieving what you set out to do? Where does misalignment create a snow drift as the crisis begins to settle on your new playing field? And how is your financial situation supporting the strength and your future agility to innovate towards new opportunities?

Repair: Yourself and your team, suppliers, alliances and partnerships. There is so much about the pandemic that we can’t solve, however, communities and organisations can all play their part. Moving on with your people, finding the ways of working that bring a greater inclusion, collaboration and fulfillment. The key is “moving on” in a way that does not hold you in the past, yet accepts that it happened and there should be a feeling that a company has learnt the better ways of working in this time. In fact, the consumer decision-making process now takes into account how a company treats its people and how the product/service provided should make a real impact and difference. Are you putting more into the world than what you’re taking?

Redistribute: How did your core, extended enterprise work to deliver purpose in a crisis? What do you keep from the tensions created by the Covid crisis and what were the pain points that were exposed that need to be changed for the long term? What is the structure you need to move forward with to ensure you have the capabilities to take on the opportunities that lie ahead?

If you had to choose one thing to start with right now: repair yourself by reflecting on the past 12 months using your signature dish as the starting point. Is it solid and unique enough to be something others would find hard to mimic? Although we may not think its value is enough to be locked up in a safe in a bank, it certainly should be protected as your shining beacon to guide you and attract the right opportunities.

Let’s put on the best and most memorable showcase we can.

Are you wondering what your right next step is? Perhaps you’re sure of your signature dish, yet need some support on how it can propel your company forward in this transitional, post-Covid period? We’d like to introduce you to the Wyseway growth evaluation – an opportunity to reflect on your company and be inspired by the ideas and thoughts that you’ll find in your own, bespoke growth guide, delivered directly to your inbox.

Take the Wyseway growth evaluation >