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Restaurant Branding 101: How to Start Building Your Restaurant’s Brand

Kit Jenkin
26 Oct. 2022

The restaurant industry is an extremely crowded market. Even in today’s lockdown-restricted world, the industry is saturated with many different choices of cuisine. This can make starting your own restaurant business seem very difficult.

If you’re opening your own restaurant, or you’re looking for a way to help get your restaurant off the ground, there’s one tried and true way to get noticed: successful restaurant branding.

While great food and service are essential, nothing drives restaurant growth like developing a successful brand [1]. 

What is a brand?

A brand is how you want your customers to feel when they interact with your business. It is the deep, visceral reaction people have when they see your logo, step into your store, and interact with your products and services. 

Think about the brands that people know and love. When people think about Apple, they are inspired by creativity, individuality, divergent thinking, and beautiful design. When people think of McDonald’s, quick, convenient, and tasty food comes to mind. For many, there is a hint of nostalgia from the restaurant’s association with the heyday of the American fast-food chains of the 1950s and 60s. 

If you want your restaurant to stand out from the crowd, developing a recognizable brand is one of the best ways to do it. Some studies have shown that companies that have a strong, discernable brand have some of the highest customer retention rates. This is particularly relevant for an industry that has a very high failure rate [2]. 

A brand, though, should not be confused with branding. Branding is the expression of a brand through its creations and activities. Branding is a product’s design, logo, advertising, customer service, and more. 

Discover your brand’s values

Today, people want to do business with companies that are more than just purveyors of products and services. They want to do business with companies that stand for something [3]. You can read about this in our How to Attract Customers blog.

This is one of the foundational principles of marketing: establishing your brand’s values will not only help you distinguish yourself from your competitors - it will also help you crystalize what you want to accomplish with your business and attract your ideal, most profitable customers. 

Your brand’s values will act as the foundation for all of your branding, from what kind of menu you’ll have to the colours of your logo. They outline what you’re going to stand for and what you won’t.

Your brand’s values should:

  • Be clear and sincere: Your brand’s values should clearly outline what you value and where in the business they apply.
  • Build connections: You want your business to share values with your primary customers.
  • Set you apart: There should be no other brand out there with your unique combination of values. 

Here’s an example of some brand values for a restaurant you can use as a template to get started on your own. This list is for a hypothetical restaurateur opening an establishment dedicated to clean, vegan cuisine.

  • Simplicity: There should be no frills in the food, service, or decor. We use nothing more than what we need.
  • Sustainability: We only use the best produce and preparation methods to ensure our part in maintaining our environment remains healthy.
  • Fairness: We treat all staff and customers with fairness and respect in everything we do.
  • No harm: We will not do harm to anyone, whether person or animal, in pursuit of our business goals.
  • Positivity: All staff strives to be positive and approach every challenge with a can-do attitude.

Your company ethos will help guide your business operations in a way that keeps you moving towards your goals. Take a look at you, your business, and what you’re trying to achieve, and try to distil that into these values. Also, take a look at the brand values of other companies to get a sense of how to approach this task [4]. 

Create a mission statement

Closely related to a brand’s values, a mission statement is the policy document of your restaurant. It outlines who you are, what you’re trying to achieve, and where you’re going. A good mission statement should answer the following questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What are you doing?
  • Why are you doing it?
  • What are you hoping to achieve?
  • How are you going to achieve it?

By outlining your restaurant’s mission statement, you’ll be able to hold yourself accountable during your business operations and keep your eye on the prize. A good mission statement will also help you define a unique selling point that you can use in your advertising. Mission statements should always incorporate and connect with your brand’s values.

Position your brand in the market

Once you’ve figured out what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, you can start to think about how. This is called positioning - you need to position your brand within the market to make sure you’re connecting with a defined audience and that you stand out from your competitors. Positioning yourself correctly in the market also allows you to communicate your value more effectively to your customers. Positioning means figuring out:

  • Products: What are you planning to sell?
  • Placement: Where are you going to sell?
  • Price: How will you price your products and services?
  • Promotions: How will you promote yourself to your potential customers?

Conducting market research is essential when deciding how to position your brand. What else is out there in your local area? What products can you sell that will appeal to your target market? How will you price these things so that they’re competitive? How will you speak to your customers in a way that will entice them into your establishment, rather than another brand’s? What does your restaurant competitor analysis tell you about where you should take your business?

Develop your brand voice

Developing a brand voice essentially means humanizing your business. Determining how your company speaks and acts allows it to develop a personality, as such.  You should discern the brand voice of your business to figure out how to communicate with the public.

A good way to figure this out is to list a few characteristics of your brand and your company. Are you very formal? Lighthearted? Serious and technical? Boisterous? Jot down a few adjectives, and then expand on them until you have a good idea of the character of your business. In the same way that some businesses like to create an ideal customer profile, create a figurative profile for your business. This should guide and inform everything from your brand’s choice of words and tone on social media, to the copy of your menus. 

Design a fitting logo

Once you’ve completed the difficult task of defining your brand’s values, mission statement, positioning, and voice, you can get into the nitty-gritty aspects of branding. 

Perhaps the most important piece of branding you can do is to create a suitable logo. A logo will be used throughout your organization and is the main signifier for your business. 

You’ll want to choose a design that reflects your company’s values, and that’s easily identifiable. It should be relevant to your brand and not just focused on aesthetics. 

A good logo will be responsive, which means that it can be shrunken down, with the wording removed, and still be recognizable. To return to the example of McDonald’s, the full logo will show a red background with a golden ‘M’. The words ‘I’m lovin’ It’ will be seen somewhere, as will ‘McDonald’s’. In its simplest form, the logo is just an ‘M’. People still know immediately that it’s McDonald’s - that is a good logo. 

Work on your website

It’s not enough to have a brick-and-mortar presence in your neighbourhood. Most restaurants need a digital presence to reach as many potential customers as they can. 

Your website should follow the same design themes as your logo. Use a dedicated website builder so your brand values and missions statement to gain inspiration for your digital design. The typeface, design, colours, and UX should all complement each other and speak to your brand’s goals and values. 

Most restaurants also use their websites for taking bookings and displaying their menus. These types of things are expected of restaurants these days, so you won’t be able to do without them. Websites are also vital for letting people know where your restaurant is located and how they can get to it. 

Dedicate some time to your restaurant’s design

Just as important as the design of your logo and website is the restaurant’s interior design. The furniture, colours, signage, and fixtures you choose for your restaurant should all work together with your brand’s values and mission statement and reflect your brand’s personality. 

If we take the example of the clean vegan restaurant above, that restaurant will want to use materials, colours, and decorations that suit its brand. So, they might choose a minimalist design scheme to emphasize the brand’s value of simplicity. They might choose earthy, muted tones to reflect their emphasis on buying clean, organic produce. And they might choose a bichrome menu design that’s simplistic and functional. 

Think about how you can reflect your brand’s personality in your restaurant’s design. 

Social media marketing

Outside of the language that you use for signage and menus, social media is one of the main ways restaurants can broadcast their brand’s voice. 

Social media sites have become powerful tools for restaurants to get in touch with their customers outside of the restaurant. On these platforms, you can create fun, interactive posts that will engage your followers and, if you’re lucky, will get them wanting to come into your restaurant for a meal. 

There are many ways you can use social media to grow your brand and your business. Partner with other restaurants in your area to do mutually beneficial promotions. Create stunning influencer marketing campaigns that target your ideal customers. Use relevant hashtags to promote your business. Or pay for beautiful ads to be shown to your target market. 

A restaurant POS for the ages

If you’re opening a restaurant, you’ll need a way to take payments. A dedicated, flexible point of sale system will do wonders for your restaurant’s bottom line and productivity. With an Epos Now Restaurant POS system, you’ll be able to:

  • Track time-at-table and manage floor plans in real-time to boost table turnover
  • Eliminate costly errors with automated ordering and seamless communication
  • Streamline back of house operations with a comprehensive Kitchen Display System
  • Group by course and order type to speed up preparation and reduce customer wait times
  • Offer delivery, collection, and table ordering services with our online ordering platform
  • Integrate with over 100 apps, including leading accountancy and CRM tools
  • Identify popular delivery orders to create smarter promotions 
  • Grow your marketing list and add to your base of regular customers
  • Collect more online reviews to boost your reputation

Contact Epos Now today to find out more about our systems.