Restaurant branding: ARE YOU SERIOUS?

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I’ve worked with many clients in an outside of the restaurant industry. One thing that i’ve noticed is that the term “branding” gets thrown around more than a baseball without much understanding for what “branding” really entails. The fact is, it’s not about redesigning your logo. That’s not even the beginning, the end or the majority of what happens.

I had a client who’s restaurant was failing. When I say “failing,” I mean six figures failing and the year wasn’t even over. Their response to this failure was to rearrange the current menu, up the pricing, load it up with a bunch of new dishes and put it in front of an unsuspecting customer. The true failure here was not seeing the root of the problems: weak concept from start to finish; including the brand identity. They weren’t SERIOUS about their restaurant’s brand and what it meant. Heck, they didn’t even know what their restaurant’s brand was/is!

With restaurants, your “concept” is congruent with the word “brand.” It IS your brand. Ergo, “rebranding” or “branding” a restaurant is the act of solidifying, clarifying and identifying the concept, then communicating it visually throughout everything that is the restaurant.

If you want to stop the hemorrhaging, you need to be SERIOUS about branding. From the top down, the restaurant’s stakeholders must be dedicated to turning the concept into a tightly formed experience; a bulletproof brand. Only then can the bleeding slow up, stop, and the restaurant can start growing. What’s it take to be serious about restaurant branding?

1. Come to terms with the fact that you may have made mistakes? You may have been… oh my god… WRONG. It’s okay. Making mistakes is how you come to understand what to avoid in the future. Mistakes are lessons when you quit being afraid of them.

2. Latch on to the INDELIBLE FACT that you CANNOT and WILL NOT please everyone. Period. This is nonnegotiable and not up for debate. If you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll be nothing.

3. Restaurant branding is not simple. It is not quick, but it DOES WORK. It’s what separates the big boys from the ever-struggling mom and pop shops.

4. Restaurant branding is COMPREHENSIVE. It includes the interiors of the location, the staff, the back of house, front of house, advertising, the website, and, YES, the logo, too. EVERYTHING must line up. EVERYTHING must support the brand’s essence.

5. Restaurant brands must be built on a unifying concept. A short, but concise, sentence about what the restaurant is, what it stands for, and why it exists. This essence can only be developed through a rigorous restaurant branding process.

You have to get SERIOUS about your restaurant. You have to understand that it’s a business first. Your dream and vision is important to that business, but without focus and dedication to the root of your dream, YOU WILL FAIL.

Time to start developing your restaurant’s brand with Vigor! Not ready to hire a restaurant branding firm? Buy the book on restaurant branding instead!

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