Running a successful restaurant is more than just about serving good food prepared with the help of talented chefs and high-quality equipment. It’s no secret that thousands of new restaurants pop up all over America every year. And if you want to make sure you get a leg up over your competition, you need to do more than cook delicious meals or buy a high-priced commercial refrigerator for preserving your ingredients. You need to establish a brand and build relationships with your customers.
Brand-building can get utterly vague, which is why it’s understandable that many restaurateurs would rather focus on the specifics of their commercial ice makers and Manitowoc ice machines than actually sit down and work on creating a brand for their restaurant. But establishing a brand doesn’t have to be complicated. It will take some work, but it’s not rocket science.
By following the same basic branding strategies, you can create a restaurant brand that helps you establish emotional and social relationships with your customers and identify your business a notch above other restaurants in your area.
Strategy 1: Know who You are.
In the simplest terms, your brand is your business’s personality. It is how your restaurant comes across to people when they encounter it. And the best way to brand your business is to be authentic about who you are and what you offer. These days, it’s not just enough for restaurants to offer good food. Restaurants need to have a purpose, a story that sets them apart. The most important question you need to ask yourself is this. Why are you doing this? What’s the unique thing about you that only you can offer to the world?
Answering this question opens up several other insights that will help you define your restaurant’s Unique Selling Proposition or your USP. Your USP is what makes you different. Your USP will also help you position your brand in terms of the products and services you offer, their price points, your marketing and promotion campaigns, and your physical location. Having a clear, well-defined USP helps you communicate more clearly with your customers and deliver a distinct brand that is unmistakably yours.
Strategy 2: Identify your Voice.
If your restaurant were a person, what would it look like? How would it sound like? How would customers feel like when hanging out with that person? Find ways to describe your restaurant in the same way that you would describe a good friend of yours. Your business could be witty with an edge of sarcasm. It could be fun and friendly. Or it could be bold and cheeky. By identifying your voice, you will find it easier to speak with your audience and attract customers who are drawn to that voice.
Another way to help you find that distinctive brand voice is to get in touch with your own story. Some restaurants have a story that spans a cross-generational family saga, where the dishes come from age-old recipes that were passed on by the clan’s forebears. Others only use heritage cacao seeds harvested from some far-flung corner of the world for their bestselling hot chocolate. What’s your story and how can you weave that into your everyday dealings with your customers?
Strategy 3: Determine your Overall Appearance.
How your restaurant looks like in marketing materials and in real life should be in keeping with your brand. Your logo and your letterhead both play a crucial role in establishing your brand because they give you the chance to make a great first impression and foster an identity that customers will remember. But it’s not just about the logo and the letterhead. You also want to look at less obvious but just as important elements, such as the color schemes, font styles, and designs that you will use in your marketing materials. You may want to team up with a branding design expert to help you decide the most effective combination of these elements so you can build a visual and memorable brand.
Another key consideration is how your physical restaurant looks. The services of an interior designer who specializes in restaurant design are valuable here. The interior designer will help you choose a color palette, lighting scheme, and furnishings that reflect who you are. You can also take this further by choosing tableware, music, and server uniforms that are most in keeping with your brand. It’s little details like these that can really reinforce your personality and keep it alive in the minds of your customers.
Strategy 4: Stay Consistent
You can have the most moving story or the most one-of-a-kind USP, but if you don’t constantly keep putting yourself out there, your brand is going to fizzle out like fireworks that go out with a whimper. The key is to always be consistent in everything you do.
There’s no way you can control how customers first get in contact with you. They could read about you in a friend’s Facebook post. They could stumble upon your website after reading Yelp reviews. Or they could just be walking down the street one day and decide they’d pop in and get something to eat at your restaurant. However they encounter your brand, make sure customers receive the same amazing experience you want to offer.