When developing a restaurant, creating and maintaining a consistent brand is extremely important in attracting the desired clientele and building a great reputation in the community. Brand consistency has become increasingly difficult with marketing shifting largely toward social media and other online outlets. Despite these difficulties, restaurant developers need to deliver a concise and uniform brand everywhere, ranging from the restaurant itself to its Twitter account. When a restaurant is new, establishing a robust and recognizable brand may be difficult. Developing a solid, appealing brand takes time and effort. In addition, brands develop regardless of effort, so customers will create their own vision of a restaurant if not given direction. For these reasons, the brand needs to remain a central concern for all restaurant developers. The following tips can help restaurateurs get a head start on brand development when they open a new restaurant:
1. Write an inclusive mission statement for the restaurant. People may not commonly associate mission statements with restaurants. However, restaurateurs who take the time to define a vision have a better sense of what their brand should look like. Restaurants are busy, especially in their early stages, and investing time in a brand early on helps to keep seats filled for months and even years to come, so developers should prioritize the mission statement. The statement should not be completed alone. Instead, it should involve input from the whole team. When a restaurateur asks for input from other team members, it creates more alignment in the restaurant, which ultimately allows it to deliver a more consistent customer experience.
Inclusion also creates a greater sense of ownership among employees and makes them more committed to its success. While inclusion is important, a project needs a clear leader or else it will likely never be completed. If restaurant developers do not want to take on a project personally, they need to delegate the task to a trusted individual and continue to play an instrumental part in the process. Many restaurateurs hire outside firms to help refine their mission statement and translate it into a culture.
2. Create a memorable sign or logo that reflects the brand. A symbol, logo, or sign must speak to a restaurant’s brand. Customers should be able to easily recall this image and see it in alignment with the rest of their experience at the restaurant. Restaurant developers should think about how they can incorporate the establishment’s name or concept directly into their signage in order to broadcast exactly what kind of image they want to create. By looking at the signage alone, diners should be able to get an idea of what kind of cuisine the restaurant offers. In addition to the logo, restaurants can consider various slogans that could contribute to the branding of the eatery.
Signage is essential to creating the complete package. The storefront should align with the design of the menus, which should likewise reflect the style of the website. While the need to be consistent may feel overwhelming, restaurant developers should think about their ideal customer and what they are looking for in a restaurant. The branding image—everything from the choice of colors to the font—makes a statement and will attract some people, while persuading others to look elsewhere. No brand is universally attractive. However, a brand should be attractive to the restaurant’s core audience.
3. Establish a voice for the restaurant. Today, restaurants largely advertise by engaging with customers in an online setting, which means that they need to have a distinct voice. A restaurant can use its voice to communicate information on its own website, as well as through social media outlets. A restaurant’s website is particularly important since it is the first encounter with a restaurant’s brand for the majority of diners. The feelings that a person gets from looking at a restaurant’s website need to be consistent with the message that the restaurant wants to send. Sending the wrong message can quickly cause a restaurant to lose potential customers. Moreover, a restaurant’s social media presence should have the same voice as its website. Restaurants that are serious about food may seem disjointed if they use a lot of emoticons in social media. Likewise, a fun, family-focused restaurant that has very professional and polished text may come across as cold.
Restaurant developers should also consider the importance of its voice in internal communications. Too often, restaurateurs forget how large of a role employees play in perpetuating a particular brand. Through frequent and consistent international communications, these individuals gain an understanding of how a restaurant wishes to communicate and can use that information to deliver a better level of customer service. Employees should understand what type of experience a restaurant wants to sell and develop a connection to the brand. The way in which a host speaks to customers as they come in the door says a lot about a restaurant, as does the level of service and friendliness from the wait staff.