The Keys to Creating a Likeable, Memorable Restaurant Brand

A great brand is far more than a good logo.
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Create a brand personality that projects your values to customers. (Photo: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock)

You’ve spent lots of hours (and dollars) designing the perfect logo for your restaurant that helps it stand out from the competition. But that doesn’t mean you’re ready to check “branding” off your list.

To create an appealing, memorable brand that humanizes your restaurant and encourages consumers fall in love with it, think beyond your logo, said Ward Olgreen, chief business development officer for restaurant analytics provider Marketing Vitals. “Branding in today’s world is less about what the customer sees and more about what they experience.”

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“Branding in today’s world is less about what the customer sees and more about what they experience.”
-Ward Olgreen (Photo: Ward Olgreen)

From the moment your guests pull into the parking lot — in fact, from the moment they visit your website — they start subconsciously associating their experiences and feelings with your brand. You want those experiences and feelings to be positive, of course, and also in line with the brand perception you’re trying to create. Start with these tips.

Related: Effective Ways to Elevate Your Brand

Keep your branding consistent

All the aspects of your branding should fit together like puzzle pieces to paint a single, unified picture.

“Inconsistent branding can cause confusion — and sometimes irritation — about what a guest can expect from your restaurant,” said Matt Holsinger, owner of Enthrallogy Marketing, which works with businesses in the hospitality and entertainment sectors. “Proper and consistent branding adds a level of refinement and professionalism that helps to build trust and loyalty with guests.”

Consider every customer touch point

To create a consistent brand experience, think through every customer touch point.

“Any time a guest has an interaction with a restaurant, it is a branding opportunity,” said Holsinger. Regardless of whether the consumer is visiting your website, receiving an email from you, calling to make a reservation, walking through the door or waiting at the host stand, each experience helps shape his or her perception of your brand. Think hard about what message you want those experiences to convey.

Create a brand personality that reinforces your values

One strategy to help you develop a consistent brand is to ascribe a personality to your restaurant, Holsinger said. In addition to what your restaurant does and what kind of food it serves, think of “who” it is. As a person, how would it dress? What does it take seriously and what does it find funny? All these things come together to create a brand personality that connects with guests in a personal way, he said.

Related: How to Write an Effective Restaurant Business Plan

Similarly, identify what your restaurant would value most if it were a person. “We’re in a time when consumers care more than ever about what a brand represents,” said Sara Rush Wirth, managing editor of Restaurant Business Magazine. Guests are looking for restaurants that stand for something and aspire to benefit the greater good. By clearly defining the your brand’s values, you’ll be able to more easily reinforce those values across all facets of your business.

Everything from the attire of your front-of-house staff to your signage to your online presence — even down to your email signature — should be consistent with your brand’s persona.

Don’t miss the small branding opportunities

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Small details, such as your employees’ uniforms, can tell customers a lot about your brand. (Photo: George Rudy/Shutterstock)

Countless small details, from the color of the walls to the menu design and even the napkins you use, contribute to — or detract from — the customer experience and therefore your brand perception. “It’s the smaller, more subtle branding that has the opportunity to make an impact and really stand out as something different,” said Wirth.

For instance, if you’re going for a casual or hip vibe, lacey white napkins are probably not the way to go, but they might make sense for a higher-end dining establishment.

Your menu design, from how prices are listed to how you describe your offerings, should help elicit the feelings you want associated with your brand. For example, if you want customers to associate your brand with a quality dining experience, dropping the dollar signs can keep your guests focused on the experience instead of the price.

How your staff dresses says a lot about your brand. Seattle-based restaurant chain Skillet started out as a food truck serving upscale food, and when they opened a brick-and-mortar location, the owners had the staff wear plaid uniforms to keep the onsite dining experience casual.

Music — not just the playlist but the volume — contributes heavily to the ambience of your restaurant. Make sure both the playlist and volume are a good fit with your audience and brand.

Again, the key is tell the same brand story in everything you do. Wirth summed it up: “The biggest element to consider is that all your branding and messaging is the same.”

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