Boosting Profit, Clientele, & Brand Loyalty for Washingtonian’s 2018 “Best BBQ Sandwich of the Year”

Creative Project with District BBQ


District BBQ was in the process of wrapping up a rebrand when they teamed up with Fifth Tribe. In 2018, Washingtonian awarded them the “Best BBQ Sandwich of the Year.” This accomplishment was a huge marketing launching point that was underutilized because few customers knew just how great District BBQ’s authentic, Southern food is. Their customer reviews were highly positive, and they had a fanatical, loyal following; yet on nights and weekends, foot traffic was low. Especially considering the high quality of their authentic Southern BBQ, their marketing strategies did not fully capture the quality of their food. The goal was to increase their foot traffic and expand their audience base, so District BBQ partnered with Fifth Tribe in order to augment their brand. The end result would be to increase brand loyalty, revenue, and popularity compared to other competing D.C. barbecue food chains.  


After evaluating the strengths and weak points in the District BBQ profile, Fifth Tribe selected a strategic direction that would embrace the Southern roots of the restaurant and its food while integrating and marketing towards D.C. culture. Our creative team made recommendations targeted towards enhancing the dine-in experience, embracing new and upgraded aesthetics, improving social media presence, and reaching out to larger and more diverse audiences. All information gathered was compared to the marketing strategies and potential threats from local competitors and then improved to custom-fit District BBQ and their unique goals.


The District BBQ’s branding project began with a reinvention of their physical space: we did a photoshoot to upgrade menu aesthetics, food images, in-store advertisements, and signage. In order to create a relevant presence in the digital realm -like many of the restaurant’s competitors- and to grab the attention of more than just the typical business lunch-goers, social media accounts needed to be optimized. For example, Fifth Tribe updated and used both Facebook and Instagram to promote business and encouraged customer participation on Yelp; in addition, the team created a 30, 60, and 90 day action plan for each social media account. We ran online promotions that consistently brought more weekly traffic into their location during dead times. Similarly, we also built an advertisement strategy that would take advantage of the many advertisement spaces in/around the public transportation system. Ultimately, Fifth Tribe’s goal was to not only transform the District BBQ brand, but to increase its publicity – and thus its revenue – as well.


Besides profit growth, District BBQ experienced an increase in social media following, clientele, and brand loyalty. Compared to many competing BBQ restaurants, District BBQ has some of the highest follower counts (Instagram), likes (Facebook), and ratings (Yelp). Perhaps more interestingly is the drastically expanded audience they’ve gained. After implementing Fifth Tribe’s suggestion to create a Ramadan-friendly menu, District BBQ appealed to a new customer demographic. Through a process that is uniquely Fifth Tribe’s, District BBQ has revamped into a restaurant with a Southern-charm-meets-D.C.-culture feel.