Shake Shack Delivers Burgers and a Strong Message with IPO

Shake Shack has stirred up some heavy buzz for its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange this morning. While many investors engaged in a swirl of speculation around the sustainability of the business in an increasingly saturated market, the real story for communicators is how the company has taken over Wall Street with its signature image.

Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer, a St. Louis native, has created a brand that puts two things above everything else: hospitality and good, local ingredients. The company’s communications efforts for the IPO highlight the image of Midwestern friendliness that Meyer has worked hard to cultivate.

In a foolproof PR move, the company is showing its appreciation to customers as it goes public in a big way. Today, a Shake Shack banner adorns the iconic Corinthian columns in front of the stock exchange while a food truck stands outside offering free breakfast and burgers to a line of hungry New Yorkers stretching down the block. As the day goes on, a double-decker Shake Shack bus will be touring the company’s locations in Manhattan, giving away free swag at each stop.

Shake Shack’s hospitality is on display on Wall Street this morning, but its food policy is how it got there. The company’s insistence on using what it says is natural, high-quality food—a trend that’s played a large role in the rise of industry-leading Chipotle—has helped solidify the brand over time and is a major factor in Shake Shack’s success. These companies have capitalized on American’s increasing distrust of longtime classic fast-food chains, such as McDonald's, and their sometimes-sketchy food supply. Through positioning their brands as a more healthy and socially responsible option for fast dining, brands like Chipotle and Shake Shack have found a very profitable sweet spot.

The future of Shake Shack is still up in the air, but one thing is for sure: Few things build brand loyalty like good service, hospitality and, of course, free food.