What is Restaurant Branding?
‘Branding’ is how you present yourself to your audience and how audiences recognise you. To be recognised, your branding portrays your restaurant’s uniqueness, it’s identity, it’s personality. Your overall brand identity is made up of a host of elements such as the colour theme, logo, menu design, interior design elements or uniforms. A casual diner, high-end restaurant or family restaurant are all going to have different styles and different audiences. Well thought-out branding helps create an emotional connection with your diners and improves their overall experience and perception of your restaurant. Having a lovable brand is key for restaurants because it helps build a loyal customer base, which has them coming back time and time again or spreading your business through word of mouth – two very beneficial marketing tools. Consistency is also key in creating a cohesive image of your brand across the business. Therefore, you need to make sure you stick to your branding order to send one solid image to potential customers.
What is your restaurant identity?
As mentioned, your individual restaurant identity needs to be unique. Customers need to be able to associate your brand with your business straight away for it to create any meaning. But your visual identity is more than just looking good. Your branding reflects your restaurant concept and the experience you want your customer to experience. You should carefully consider what your brand values and mission are and how you can portray this visually. For example, colours are important in creating meaning for your restaurant and consumers. A street-food style restaurant may want to use bright, non-primary colours – think pink, orange or teal. These are fun, funky, and non-traditional. On the other hand, a fine dining restaurant may want to adopt Jewel tones, such as sapphire blue or emerald green, because these are seen as sophisticated and classic. When customers see your brand colours they then associate them with your restaurant identity.
How do I make my restaurant a brand?
Firstly you need to establish your mission. Forming a mission statement and core values is the first step in gauging what your restaurant brand concept is. Think about what your restaurant’s story is. Make a note of the following to help define the business beliefs, purposes and values.
Who are you?
What are you doing?
Why are you doing it?
What do you want to accomplish?
How are you going to accomplish it?
Now these are your core values, this is useful to refer back to throughout your restaurant branding journey, to keep on track with what your brand is about. Your mission statement should be short and to the point.
Figure out where you fit in the market.
Your brand positioning allows you to become aware of how your restaurant is unique to competitors and what kind of customers you are looking to attract. Look at your price range, product type and location. Use this information to compare yourself with competitors in the area and identify what are then your individual strengths, weaknesses or opportunities. Once you have an idea of what you can offer customers, you can target these strengths in your branding. Is there a competitor in the area that also offers a casual modern dining experience serving mediterranean food? But your restaurant has a smaller team and menu. Then you can focus on creating a cosy restaurant atmosphere providing authentic medditeranian cuisine and high quality service. We then take this and create a visual identity that reflects this statement.
Developing your mission, values and personality are all the first aspects in creating your own brand strategy. Further from this, you need to decide what your tangible goals are. Is there a certain target you want to meet? Do you want to gain market share or compete with a competitor? Once you figure out what your goals are, your strengths, and weaknesses, you can use this information to better develop your brand to target your ideal customers. You may create a brand and more visuals but you need to consider what are the best channels to get your brand out there. If your customers are more youth oriented then you may want to focus on instagram and use shareable posts and stories to promote your brand. On the other hand, family restaurants will more likely be targeted at parents which you are more likely to find on facebook and on local groups or communities. And finally, creating a time period for a campaign can give you structure for your branding process. After for example 3 months, you can analyse whether your restaurant has met the goals you set, and if not, how can you adapt your brand to improve your restaurant.
Your brand voice is how you will communicate with the public. You have a brand image and a brand personality so your brand voice is just how you portray these in a consistent way. It’s important in showing new and existing customers your personality, through how you engage and interact with them. Once you have a good idea of your brand identity, think of your brand as a person and describe them in three words. Edgy? Fun? Unique? After that it’s pretty simple to figure out how they would talk to people. Restaurants have the advantage of having menus to display their brand voice and personality. This may be with unique dish names or descriptions – don’t be afraid to crack some jokes or add some puns if that fits with your brand.
Now you have your brand identity, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty parts of branding. Branding is using visuals to portray meaning and create value. So what parts of your business are visual, that you can brand?
Brands often make the mistake of thinking branding is just about the logo. While the logo is important in representing your brand, your brand image is made up of lots of other elements too that you shouldn’t neglect. Saying that, it’s also important to get right logo that sums up your brand in an effective way. Maybe it’s a unique symbol or your restaurant name in your unique brand font. For example, the Gourmet Burger Kitchen has a simple black and white font positioned between two lines, which is a subtle detail that you instantly associate with a burger. You can tell you’re getting classical and quality burger food when you visit there.
As mentioned, your colour palette can transform your brand and is a component to your restaurant identity. You may notice that many fast-food restaurants include bright colours like red or yellow in their branding. This is a conscious decision to evoke excitement and customers to rush to their meals, according to ‘Food Digital’ magazine. Luxury restaurants and cocktail bars often include metallic and gold colours, again as it portrays precious and rich sentiment.
Something that is unique to the restaurant industry are menus. But they are a useful brand asset in themselves. As mentioned, menus are the perfect opportunity to display your brand voice through descriptions and dish names. Visually, they are also useful to get creative with your existing brand assets and elements. As well as consistently using your brand font and colours, restaurants can make a unique statement with a unique design that adds to the customer’s dining experience or gives them something to talk about to their friends.
When customers arrive, your restaurant exterior instantly sets the style and tone of the restaurant. Signage that includes the logo, name and brand colours is common with restaurants to identify your restaurant again and consistently portray your brand image.
Whether it’s your website or your social media, online presence is super important for restaurants to get right. If you think about it, most people will research where they are going to eat before they visit, or they go somewhere they saw on social media. That means your branding needs to extend past your physical restaurant to your online presence. Ensure your website clearly gets across your brand identity through the navigation, titles, fonts, menus and pictures. This will be the customer’s initial introduction to your visual style and cuisine and first impressions count here. Branding is a useful tool in making your restaurant look professional and trusting to customers and that starts with your online identity.
It’s in your social media pages, campaigns and posts that audiences will be able to continue interacting with your business and gauging your brand voice. Keeping consistent and relevant is key in keeping new and existing customers engaged with your business over time.
Now that you have decided the concept of your brand and brand design, it’s important to stick to them to actually make them successful. Of course your brand will develop over time, but any deviations from your main brand should be intentional. Otherwise, customers get confused or fail to continue associating with your brand. This applies not only to your visual identity but also your brand voice too. Is your wording on campaigns, menus or online in line with your identity? For example, if you’re a fine dining restaurant you are probably not going to be posting witty or sarcastic messages across social media like an independent street food restaurant would. By consistently putting out the same branding each day you will gain more and more recognition from new and loyal customers. Creating a strong brand with consistent effort is the winning combination for a successful restaurant business.
Okay so you now know how to brand your restaurant, but why should you bother?
Having a unique brand that effectively reflects your business helps you stand out against competitors. In an era where people are constantly consuming new information, having a cohesive and unique brand image helps you become more noticed and recognised against others.
Because you now have an established brand and professional restaurant that is trusted you can now have confidence in your restaurant and start charging what you are worth. Effective branding acts as the foundation for a high quality service, which means people are more willing to pay for what they get!
An effective brand creates loyal customers as a visually appealing and cohesive visual style makes a brand appear more professional and trustworthy. Further benefits of gaining a more loyal customer base include more customers returning to your restaurant as well as the spread to new customers through word of mouth and social media.
An effective branding strategy allows for growth. Once you have an established logo, assets, colours and font to name a few, you can then focus on staying relevant with your audience. No need to deviate, you can just stay consistent with your branding and focus on showing the latest news or offers from your business.
Branding your restaurant doesn’t have to be a monumental task. In fact the time spent in understanding, organising and constructing what your brand is about and who it is for will pay off ten-folds for your restaurant. Just like how restaurants create a meaningful experience with their food and atmosphere, personal branding can be an extension of this experience and help attract the customers you desire. Whatever the purpose is for your restaurant, branding can make the difference between advantages over competitors. Therefore, it’s definitely something you will want to invest in, in a time where more restaurants are developing their services in the post-pandemic market.