Chipotle just won the GMO debate.

Chipotle announced today they’re removing all genetically modified organism (GMO) ingredients.

I don’t see any GMOs. Do you see any GMOs?
I don’t see any GMOs. Do you see any GMOs?

Wherever you personally stand on the issue, you have to admit that (a) this further strengthens the Chipotle brand; (b) is completely consistent with everything they appear to stand for; and (c) will make every single dang other restaurant in the world look like a follower when/if they remove GMOs from their food. They’ll be mentioned as “first” in every news story as one by one, eventually, other restaurants decide to do the same.

They win. They get all the social media/public relations/brand consistency points.

At the NRA Show last spring, I sat in on a session called “He Said/She Said,” a town-hall-style education session in which Nancy Kruse, trend expert and president of The Kruse Company, had a wide-ranging discussion with Bret Thorn, Senior Food Editor at Nation’s Restaurant News. Then I guest-blogged on the National Restaurant Association Brainfeed site about it. At one point, their discussion turned to GMOs, and Thorn irritably said, “The facts are immediately lost, as soon as the subject comes up.”

And that’s the trouble. It’s a very contentious topic, and everyone is operating off of different facts.

But in a sea of fast casual restaurants, many of which are already quickly described by the shorthand of  “the Chipotle of pizza” or “the Chipotle of Chinese,” this move further ratifies Chipotle’s domination and leadership—especially with those prized Millennials.

Chipotle knows who they are, and they know how to seem.

That alone differentiates them. From the book, “Chapter Three: Brand Promise:”

“Many major restaurants haven’t been able to tell people clearly who they really, truly are.

It’s the reason I can perform one of my favorite Marketing Party Tricks: I can mix up interior photos of Ruby Tuesday’s, TGI Friday’s, Applebee’s and O’Charley’s, and nobody (except maybe the guys who actually installed the brass handrails and beaded wainscoting) can accurately match the name to the frame.

TGI O’Ruble-B-Day’s marketing trouble is, they didn’t determine what they want to fight about (and win), or whom they might defeat in that fight. So they change their brand promise all the time, which is expensive.

And they say whatever pops into their head.

Their brand promise is so ineffable, so vague, they don’t even really have something to say.”