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You are passionate about cooking, and your diners swear by it – but is that enough to build a restaurant brand on? No, because branding goes way beyond posting on Facebook or Instagram and posting a few ads on Google! But there’s so much you can do to build your restaurant brand, and you’ve already done the first step: offer great food!
You can have the best food, but if the customer experience is not memorable, you won’t achieve the visibility worthy of a brand with staying power. The good news is that launching your restaurant brand in this digital age isn’t rocket science, and you can begin with free tools!
Brand: Your Identity In A Nutshell
Do you already have that distinctive quality that customers or followers can identify and associate with, or have you gone the generic route? Brands aren’t meant to blend into the woodwork – it’s your time to shine.
Your brand or identity is more than a name, logo, slogan, color, or design.
It should be consistent and catchy but not trendy. Experiment with free-to-use graphic design tools when creating your mood board – you have to have a basic grasp of how you want to appear in your buyer’s mind before outsourcing. This step of knowing yourself will spare you much grief and remove many errors from the ‘trial’ branding kit.
Research how you want to leave that imprint in your diner’s mind. It includes all features that set you off as a unique entity and the experiences your customers trust that they will have when they dine with you.
Regarding restaurants, all senses must be considered when creating the brand playbook. The menu, look, taste, smell, sound, feel, and ambiance spells the difference on whether you are the go-to restaurant or just another one on the block.
Create A Mission Statement Built On Your Authentic Self
The brand is your voice – whether you are a kiosk or one with a small restaurant design layout, make your mission statement about you and the amazing things unique about your restaurant. You can draw inspiration from other restaurant brands but resist the urge to copy. Their path is not yours to tread.
Customers, especially those who belong to the new generation, value authenticity. They won’t go to another McDonald’s, Denny, or KFC wannabe when they want a McDonald’s burger, a Denny pancake, or KFC fried chicken – unless you offer a similar product with a unique proposition that can create a buzz of its own.
Include the following in your mission statement:
- Who are we?
- What food and beverage are we offering?
- Unique Selling Point (USP) or what sets us apart from the rest?
- Why should you trust us?
Keep these in mind when you create your brand values and marketing strategy.
Understand Your Audience: Who Are They, And What Will Make Them Come?
Family restaurants are popular, but those with a more clearly defined niche stand a good chance of developing a solid market. Knowing your customer is indispensable because it dictates how you communicate with them, the platforms used, and what offers they are likely to grab.
Some points to consider when honing in on your target demographics:
- Location, Location, Location. Location can determine your menu, look, ambiance, price point, and customer base. Are you located in the town center near upscale shops or near campus? For example, if you cater mostly to university students on a budget, your branding should be consistent with good value and affordability. If you are located in a mixed-use building in an upscale location, your branding should be attractive to the people who work or live in the area.
- Listen, Learn, and Socialize. If you have your social media going, go beyond posting photos and reels. Analyze which of your posts are getting a lot of interaction and engage those who comment on Facebook, Instagram, or whatever platform you are in. An emoji won’t suffice – take note of what is essential to your visitors and address any concerns they may have. Invest your time – sincerity and personalization should be part and parcel of your branding.
- Talk The Talk. Are you a restaurant your target diners will feel at home in – or are you missing the point entirely? Interesting does not mean standing out like you don’t belong.
- Look. Check what drives your customers and what would make them write bad reviews. Online sleuthing takes some diligence, but insight into the behavior of your target audience in that location can help you project what they want from your brand. Check your competition – how does their restaurant brand differ from yours, and what are their strategies? A local search using Google, Yelp, or Facebook will give you a good idea of what’s in or out and how your branding and marketing strategies should evolve.
- Flaunt. Take a lot of photos and behind-the-scenes.
Regarding your brand’s goal setting, be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. And don’t forget to KISS – keep it simple and strategic!
There is never a better time to profit from what drives you the most. From cooking your own food, you can cook for others and earn a living. Your passion for food and culinary talents are instrumental in making your restaurant business a reality. Your brand makes that restaurant visible to your customers. Once they start coming, profits won’t be far behind.