A well-established restaurant brand is what makes your customers return or tell people about you.
When we hear “branding”, most of us think of a logo or a beautiful website. Logo and website are important aspects of branding. But there are several steps you need to take before you start thinking of your website design.
What is Branding?
Branding is not just a visual part of your business. It is everything consumers have in mind when they think of your restaurant.
How does your service make them feel?
Does it have a luxury feel, or do they feel comfortable coming in jeans and sneakers?
What dish comes to mind when they think of your restaurant?
All these things are a part of branding. Here are 4 things you need to define for your brand:
1. Your Target Audience
The first thing you need to decide is whom you want to serve. What are your guests like? Are they upper-class, middle-aged people who prefer attentive and very professional service? Are they students and energetic 20-year-olds looking to party with their friends? Or maybe they are families that want to spend some time together in a different setting?
No, I am not saying you should set your eyes on one type of customer and refuse service to anyone else. What I am saying is that once you decide who your target audience is, you should plan the next steps.
If you want to target families, your restaurant should be children-friendly. You should have kids’ meals on the menu, highchairs in the back, and specials served for Mother’s or Father’s Day.
If you want to attract high-end guests, your restaurant should have an extensive wine list and well-trained staff.
You get the point. Your target audience will set the tone for your entire brand.
2. Your Mission Statement
Your mission statement says what your restaurant does and what it stands for. Let’s look at a few examples:
“Our mission is to make delicious feel-good moments easy for everyone.” – McDonald’s
“At Olive Garden, we want the experience of warmth and caring to extend beyond our restaurant walls and into every community where we live and serve.” – Olive Garden
“Giving…Making a Difference in Someone’s Life.” – Jersey Mike’s Subs
A restaurant's mission statement talks about the food, quality of service, or brand values. It should be catchy and distinguish you from your competitors. A few tips when you’re writing a mission statement:
Keep it short
Make it unique
Communicate the restaurant’s best qualities
Be transparent and honest
3. Your Story:
Storytelling is one of the best ways to connect with your customers. It can turn one-time guests into regulars.
There are over 25,000 restaurants in New York City. A lot to choose from. What would make the customers come back to your place? Sure, the food is good, but so is at thousands of other restaurants.
People go back to places they feel a connection with. Here are some ways people can feel the connection with your restaurant:
Tell a story of how the restaurant was founded. Whether you built it from scratch or bought it from someone else, there is a story behind it. Communicate that story with your guests. Make them involved in your restaurant’s history.
Tell a story behind your menu. Show off the ingredients of your meals. How did you come up with the recipe? Maybe the recipe is from your Italian grandma who taught you how to cook when you were little? Did your chef go to a famous culinary school? Whatever the story is, it will make your dishes taste better.
Your staff tells the story. Are they friendly and joking with customers? Or they're serious and provide a fine-dining service? Is your staff buttoned-up and polished, or are they dressed more casually? Whatever you set your staff to be, it will set the tone and the story of your restaurant.
Your brand’s values: What does your brand stand for? Is it organic food and craft beer? Is it the highest level of customer service? Maybe your restaurant donates food/money to a charity? Make sure you communicate these values to your guests.
Now that you defined your audience, your story, and your values, you should communicate these values through your design. Define your brand colors and fonts. They should be present everywhere, and not just on your website. Here are some examples:
Have you ever visited someone’s Instagram page and found it so pleasing? Everything seems to flow and tell a story. That is because these brands keep consistent colors, fonts, and filters. Consistency makes social media look good holistically, and not just by individual posts.
Think about the values and tone you defined in the previous steps. You should communicate them through your logo.
Your logo doesn’t need to be complicated. Think of famous brands and logos such as Nike or Apple. So simple and yet so memorable. When people see these symbols, people don’t see a swoosh or an apple. They see motivation, strengths, opportunities, luxury, and simplicity. People can associate the most basic symbols with the feeling your brand creates.
Your ads should follow your brand guidelines. They should look like extensions of your website. When people click on your ad, the page they land on should have the same color patterns, logo, and messaging as your ad. If these items are different, people will be confused about whether they are in the right place. And a confused mind always says no.
Your website is the salesman that works for your restaurant 24/7. Your website should not only look good but also lead your customers into booking a table.
Like everything else, your website should be in your brand colors and use your brand’s fonts. It should also tell a story about your restaurant: when and how it was founded, and any interesting topics related to your place.
Additionally, it should include your restaurant’s menu and photos of the most presentable and popular dishes.
Lastly, make sure you optimize your website for mobile users. This is often overlooked, but a very important thing to remember. 61% of people will check your website from their phones. If the images or text are cut off, your website, and the entire business, will seem unprofessional.
Don’t forget to include your brand theme on your menu – both online and in print. When it comes to food photos, you should avoid including them on print menus. But studies have shown that photos boost online sales, so you should include them on your website. Make sure your food and cocktails look irresistible in these pictures.
Think of McDonald’s food in the photos versus the reality. Their food looks amazing in the photos, while in reality… well, not the same. Still, millions of people eat there every single day because of their branding.
I am not saying you should be a con artist and advertise something that isn’t as good as you say. I am saying that you should put extra effort into how you present your food.
All in all, branding adds a set of personality traits to your business. It is a way your customers feel when they leave your restaurant. It is what people tell their friends about you. A strong brand creates trust.
If you need help with branding your restaurant, we are happy to help. Contact us to schedule free consultations!