Don’t worry, I won’t start this off with “a logo isn’t branding.” We’re going to presume that you know that already. Instead, I’m going unveil the critical elements of successful restaurant branding and how you can use them starting right now. Here are three keys to pushing your restaurant branding efforts forward:
1. Build the restaurant experience from the brand strategy
Too often a branding effort is relegated to visual outputs (e.g. identity, menus, website.) While it’s important to visually communicate the brand’s personality and deeper levels, keeping it solely visual eliminates the true power of successful branding. Building a successful restaurant brand requires the brand strategy to directly affect every facet of the company from the greeting of a guest to the P-mix, and all things in between. It should even affect who you hire and where you find them. For instance, if the restaurant brand’s personality traits are upbeat, whimsical, and modern, then having basic steak and potatoes wouldn’t make sense. Instead, skirt steak with lemon chimichurri or something slightly offbeat would make much more sense. At the front of the house, or at the counter, a greeting that’s fun and whimsical would help reinforce the brand’s unique strategy, rather than a simple, “Hi, how can I help you?”
2. Every team member from top to bottom should understand the brand strategy
A lot of restaurant organizations develop a brand strategy and effectively integrate it into marketing and possibly even operations. While that’s a win, it still misses an aspect of the restaurant’s experience that’s critical to truly immersing guests: the restaurant team. From top to bottom, every team member must understand the brand strategy and how it plays out in their daily work. Understanding it is a great first step, but taking it even further into ownership and adoption is the absolute gold standard for which you should strive. When team members understand the brand they’re meant to represent, the brand itself sees a measurable positive impact.
3. Experiences happen outside of the four walls
Yes, the four wall experience is paramount and investing money in developing unique, remarkable experiences is a fantastic investment indeed. However, the restaurant space isn’t the only place where guests experience the brand. The restaurant’s website, social media channels, apps, and events are all places where the same attention to detail and experience building should be employed. Websites should be much deeper than menus and a home page slider. These are places where the brand’s true personality can shine through with video, interaction, and new ways of connecting with the brand. Social media should be way more than pictures of food and promotions. Those channels should uplift the lifestyle and personality of the brand selflessly. Every immersion point for the restaurant should be assessed through the lens of the brand strategy.
Restaurant brand strategies are only effective when fully integrated into the entire organization. From operations through culinary, marketing through human resources, the restaurant’s brand comes to life in every single experience touchpoint. It’s paramount that any restaurant branding effort is fully activated every day and at every moment.