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In 2015, we were tasked at “taking another look” at the way Einstein Bros. Bagels were leveraging their brand. With Starbucks and Panera encroaching on their place at the breakfast table, they wanted to reaffirm their position with new print and out-of-home and, more importantly, a loyalty-based mobile app to encourage repeat, if not habitual visits.

Two things immediately sprung to mind. The first, their outright ownership of the word “shmear” - their own vernacular for cream cheese on a bagel. The second, the fact their name was Einstein. This proved more tricky, as the Albert Einstein Estate had their organization on speed dial and didn’t much care for the association.

But combining the two made for a very simple positioning statement that both leveraged their brand’s core assets: “Shmear Genius”.

Taking a long look at what their competition was doing for mobile loyalty (great artists steal, after all), we decided to keep things simple but quirky. The first decision was to not enter into the undertaking of a proprietary app - which requires significant updating as mobile operating systems evolve. Additionally, research was showing that customers had more than started to sour on installing applications, but were still willing to use their email address or social media credentials as part of the signup process.

With all of the advances made in mobile browser technology, including code that enabled accessing the phone’s gyrometer, we were able to create a mobile rewards app, minus the app.

Admittedly, having your growing stack of bagels or fill-up of coffee tumble or slosh around your screen is a simple novelty - but mobile development is the Wild West when it comes to deploying new technology first.

More importantly, we were able to generate QR and bar codes within the site’s backend that wouldn’t require any updates to the existing point-of-sale technology at Einstein’s near-thousand locations. Believe me when I tell you, that’s the first question a franchisee asks. No carrying costs for app maintenance, no update costs to the physical locations and enhanced data collection? Now, that’s Shmear Genius.