Leon is a UK-based fast food chain. First established in 2004, the hospitality brand’s mission is to prove that food doesn’t have to sacrifice nutrition, speed or taste to be good. This vision has resonated with customers, and the hospitality brand has enjoyed massive growth in the years since, with over 70 locations across the UK and Europe.
Leon built upon its early success, including key industry awards, and began diversifying its products to include cookbooks and grocery items. However, the company has never lost sight of its three core values centred around responsibly sourcing ingredients, talent, and partnerships from local communities and the environment.
At Future Platforms, we’re all too familiar with the importance of seamless digital touchpoints. And so, given our expertise and skills, Leon approached us in mid-2021 to help them explore new hospitality innovations.
Like other hospitality brands at the time, Leon was keen to improve its digital touchpoints. Namely, improving the customer experience through seamless transactions and tailored brand interactions. However, with so many moving parts to its business, Leon needed a consistent design language so its app, kiosk and website would offer users a cohesive brand feel.
Moreover, the competition was fierce at the time. According to a McKinsey analysis interest in digital transformation projects was at an all-time high, with hospitality brands (among others) accelerating their digital strategy by anywhere from three to ten years.
Leon had also been recently acquired by the EG Group, and its senior management was keen to develop a shared design system across its digital touchpoints from other sub-brands (which included Starbucks, Cinnabon, and others). So, as a digital product agency, our job was two-fold. We had to find opportunities to transform Leon’s customer experience across multiple digital touchpoints and explore untapped hospitality innovations within the market more generally.
What we delivered
The project began with a design sprint workshop to help us understand more about the hospitality brand. The first exercise was aimed at understanding Leon’s various customer segments and competitors. Specifically, how regular customers compare to more casual ones across its core hospitality outlets versus its other revenue streams (including Leon’s cookbook and grocery items). Similarly, we also wanted to know how its largely UK audience differed from its overseas customers. During this process, we helped Leon refine its core values around its sustainable sourcing and ethical operations, highlighting the brand’s potential for new hospitality innovation.
We also gathered market research from direct in-sector competitors and out-of-sector brands. This ensured we could identify what digital touchpoint trends Leon could borrow from and determine which hospitality innovations it was lagging on. Crucially, because the hospitality brand had a range of revenue sources, we made sure to cast a wide net for inspiration. For example, we evaluated the latest developments from fellow in-store hospitality brands versus sustainable brands, digital pioneers, brand community leaders, and more.
The second and third exercises involved narrowing down the most relevant research before exploring ways to apply it to the hospitality brand’s various customer segments. From here, our fourth and final exercise was a free-for-all design challenge called Crazy 8s. The no-holds-barred format helped the workshop team explore more creative hospitality innovations and expand the horizons of its digital touchpoints.
After the workshop was done, we took the insights and distilled them into a shared design language that both Leon and its new parent company, EG, could use. The full project ran for a 2-3 week period and equipped both Leon and EG with new hospitality innovations to explore along with scalable design templates that would enable easier product launches in future.
As a leading digital product agency, we’re able to support the entire product development lifecycle. Using our three-pillar approach, we combine comprehensive digital strategy with engineering excellence and a holistic design approach.
As a result, we could guide Leon’s product strategy by identifying opportunities in their digital touchpoints that were not only innovative but also built upon the values that customers loved so much. Equally, the workshop’s design sprint format meant we could explore highly creative ideas for new hospitality innovations before turning them into focused and scalable solutions.
What’s more, we used our prototyping experience and cross-platform skills to ensure the hospitality brand’s digital touchpoints truly elevated the customer experience. Best of all, the newly created design language meant the EG group could leverage the ideas we gathered and deploy them across their other IPs seamlessly.
Both Leon and EG have enjoyed further success in the years since. Our design language has been adopted across EG’s digital touchpoints, ensuring that the company could launch new products without having to repeat core processes to set up new digital touchpoints. Moreover, its flexibility meant EG could maintain each hospitality outlet’s unique brand feel.
In October 2023, EG sold part of its UK and Ireland operations to Asda, providing Leon with fresh growth opportunities. Specifically, new and stronger inroads to retail for its take-home products in addition to its core hospitality locations across the UK and Europe.
To learn more about our work as a digital product agency, get in touch.