How honeygrow grew its business through storytelling

Aug 28, 2017

When it comes to promoting your business, what does “storytelling” really mean?

It’s not just a buzzword. It’s actually a useful concept for thinking about how various marketing elements work to affect how people view your company.

A good example’s honeygrow.

Founder Justin Rosenberg developed the fast-dining eatery while studying at Temple. He opened the first store five years ago, two blocks from our office in Center City Philadelphia. Now there are 20 locations in nine states.


Temple grad and honeygrow founder Justin Rosenberg.


The name stands for “honest eating, growing local,” but lots of restaurants preach the same thing these days. Rosenberg wanted the business to also stand for creativity.

Conveying that idea required a suite of initiatives, not a single campaign or marketing tactic.

“He wasn’t merely promoting a new style of eating; he was also pioneering a fresh kind of business culture,” wrote Philadelphia Inquirer writer Inga Saffron. “Honeygrow was one of the first chains to allow diners to customize their orders on touch pads. It was also big on storytelling, and it used art, videos, and music to shape a hip identity that went beyond food.”


The mural at honeygrow’s 11th and Ludlow location in Philadelphia is by local artist Martha Rich.


They also literally tell stories. Their blog features as many posts about themselves as it does other creative people and businesses in its different markets, ranging from local artists, to distilleries, to record stores.

And all that’s reflected in a new tagline: “nourishing creativity.”

What’s that mean for business? It means when they open new stores, they’ve already built interest in the broader creative community.

“We get an instant family,” said honeygrow’s Chief Brand Officer Jen Denis. “While our roots will always be in Philly, we want to endear ourselves to the areas we enter as well.”

Long story short: by using a mix of promotion techniques, honeygrow’s crafting a distinct story that helps it grow.

This article was written by Lee ProcidaIt first appeared in our weekly newsletter, Long Story Short.

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