Branding: A key ingredient to your restaurant’s success
There’s no way to sugarcoat it; running a successful restaurant is tough. Supply chain issues, rising food costs, and staff shortages are some of the biggest challenges restaurants today are up against.
Only the most robust and dynamic restaurants succeed in this dog-eat-dog marketplace. So, what’s the secret of the successful few? Aside from choosing the right location and menu, successful restaurants must also stand out from their competitors to win customers and gain loyalty.
A carefully crafted, consistent, and engaging brand can help to attract more customers and drive business growth in the restaurant industry.
Our restaurant branding guide explores the importance of restaurant branding and explains the key steps involved in branding and marketing a restaurant.
Why is branding essential for a restaurant?
Branding is essential to any business strategy, and restaurants are no exception. Restaurants can’t get away with half-hearted branding; the food and hospitality industry is fiercely competitive, and for a restaurant to succeed, it needs a comprehensive and well-thought-out branding strategy.
Effective branding communicates a business’s unique identity to its audience. A restaurant’s brand should convey its values, mission, identity, and economic value to its audience, setting clear expectations for the dining experience.
By aligning a restaurant’s brand identity with its core values and mission, you can differentiate it from its competitors and attract and retain more engaged and loyal customers.
How does a strong brand contribute to a restaurant’s success?
Without strong branding, your restaurant is just another window on the high street.
Successful branding makes your restaurant instantly recognisable and helps to attract interest and entice customers through the doors. It also helps to differentiate your restaurant from others, making it memorable and forging stronger connections with your audience.
Strong and consistent branding gives your restaurant credibility, fosters trust and encourages customer loyalty.
Now we know the why, let’s find out how to create a restaurant brand!
What are the key steps in branding a restaurant?
Effective branding is key, whether opening a brand new restaurant or looking for ways to improve an existing restaurant’s performance.
Creating an eye-catching logo is a good starting point, but branding is much more than how your restaurant looks. Your branding should also help to shape how your restaurant tastes, sounds, and makes customers feel. It helps to influence both customer experience and consumer perception.
To forge a successful restaurant brand, you must be prepared to invest time in branding. You’ll need to clearly and concisely put your brand’s mission, values, and identity into words.
Key steps to defining your restaurant brand include the following:
Identify your target audience
Before you begin branding your restaurant, you need to understand your target audience inside out. Who are they, and what do they want when dining out? The information you glean from researching your target audience will help to guide your branding decisions.
Define what makes your restaurant unique
What has your restaurant got that others haven’t? It could be the style of food you’re offering, pricing, your restaurant’s theme, or its values. Consider what makes your restaurant different to identify its unique selling points (USPs) – these will help you position your restaurant clearly in the marketplace.
Identify your brand values
Your brand values are guiding principles when making important business decisions. Examples of brand values include sustainability, value for money, adaptability, quality, and innovation. Clearly defined brand values help create internal alignment and build customer trust and loyalty.
Create brand mission and vision statements
Your restaurant’s mission statement describes what it does, whilst its vision statement describes its aspirations for the future. Mission and vision statements provide employees and consumers with clarity about what a business does, what it stands for, and what its future looks like. They also act as a point of reference, helping to guide important decisions by aligning them with these overarching objectives.
Develop your brand’s visual identity
Now, for the fun bit, creating a visual identity for your brand! This includes designing a restaurant logo, choosing a colour scheme, font, and overall aesthetic that reflects your brand’s values and mission. Your brand’s visual identity should be used consistently across every part of your restaurant’s operations, including its website, staff uniforms, and menus.
Develop your brand voice
Your brand voice is how your business sounds when it communicates with its audience. This includes the personality it conveys, its choice of words, and its tone. A consistent voice can humanise your brand, capture your audience’s attention, and help distinguish it from competitors.
Map out the customer journey
Dining out is a special occasion for many, and customers expect a smooth dining experience at a minimum. To design the customer experience, analyse every touchpoint where customers interact with your restaurant, from discovering your restaurant to paying and any follow-up communications. Each touchpoint should align with your branding, including the restaurant’s physical environment, menu, customer service style, and integrated technology.
The menu can make or break a restaurant, and curating one requires a lot of thought and creativity. Every part of the menu must be designed to align with your restaurant’s brand identity, from how the menu is written to the ingredients used and how the food is presented.
Train your staff
Once you’ve created your restaurant brand, it’s time to communicate it with your employees. Your employees should understand and embody your restaurant’s branding to create a cohesive and memorable customer experience. To achieve this, all employees should receive training about your brand when they are onboarded, and internal business operations should be designed to align with brand values and identity, helping employees to live and breathe your brand while at work.
Your brand’s identity should be used consistently across all aspects of your restaurant’s operations, internally and externally, to create a cohesive dining experience.
What are the best channels for marketing a restaurant?
Creating an irresistible brand helps to set your restaurant up for success, but restaurateurs still need to work hard at marketing their restaurant to get it in front of the right people.
If it’s difficult for people to discover your restaurant, then business growth will be slow, no matter how dynamic your branding is.
So, once you’ve nailed your branding, it’s time to invest time in marketing your restaurant. Key channels for marketing a restaurant include:
Your restaurant’s brand and website go hand in hand to create a cohesive and memorable user experience. An online presence is no longer optional for restaurants; it’s key to their success and growth. Your website is your digital storefront, providing vital information about your business and food. It presents an excellent opportunity to showcase your location, menu, ambience, service, and USPs. When designed effectively, your website should entice customers to engage with your business, visit your restaurant, or make an online reservation.
Just like how first-rate branding is ineffective if no one can see it, a flawless website is useless if no one can find it. Search engine optimisation improves your website’s visibility for relevant search terms, making it easier for your target audience to discover your business. Regularly updating the content on your website, using keywords strategically, and ensuring your website is mobile-friendly and accessible are all key to effective SEO.
While SEO is a long-term strategy, PPC provides quicker wins. Like SEO, pay-per-click advertising helps to improve your website’s visibility online. Paid ads appear at the top of search engine results and can be precisely targeted, helping drive relevant traffic to your website quickly.
Collecting customer data and creating targeted email marketing campaigns and newsletters can help you to stay in touch with customers, promote offers, and encourage customer loyalty and repeat business.
A revealing article in the Mirror found that 41% of Brits think the best way to decide whether or not to visit a restaurant is based on its social media. It also found that the average adult spends 40 minutes researching restaurants on social media before booking. Restaurants that are not on social media or don’t invest time in maintaining their social media presence and engaging with their audience miss out on a big slice of the pie. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are valuable channels for marketing restaurants, attracting new customers, and connecting with and engaging an audience.
While online marketing has surpassed print marketing, newspapers, magazines, and flyers are still effective channels for marketing a restaurant, especially if you want to reach a local audience. Press releases and paid advertisements can help to promote new businesses, special offers, and events to establish your presence and grow brand awareness in the local community.
OpenTable is the world’s largest restaurant booking platform. Restaurants can partner with OpenTable to appear in the network’s search results, which match customers looking for a restaurant with suitable places to eat. It offers real-time results and instantly confirms the online booking to the customer and the restaurant. Restaurants pay a subscription and commission on every reservation made through OpenTable.
Collaborating with local food bloggers, influencers, and critics can give your restaurant valuable exposure. Inviting influencers to visit your restaurant or participate in an event can increase brand awareness and credibility through their endorsement.
Marketing a restaurant requires a thoughtful and integrated approach that leverages several channels, from digital marketing to traditional print advertising and community engagement. The key to success lies in understanding your target audience, choosing your marketing channels accordingly, and delivering a consistent message across all channels.
Which website features and tools boost restaurant growth?
The internet, and to some extent, the Covid-19 pandemic, have changed how customers discover and engage with restaurants. An attractive website offering an intuitive and engaging user experience has become a key tool for managing a successful restaurant. Customers are now spending more time than ever researching restaurants online before they visit. They want to make informed decisions about where they dine before parting with any money. Customers visiting your website want to see evidence of your business’s credibility and the quality of the food and experience they will receive if they visit.
Integrating the right website tools and features can make your website a dynamic tool for driving business growth. Here are some key features and functionalities to consider integrating with your restaurant’s website.
- Reservation booking tool – Many restaurants inadvertently become their own biggest enemy by creating hurdles in the table reservation process. Unanswered telephones and limited booking hours can deter potential customers who are eager to visit. Offering an online booking tool for customers makes it simple, hassle-free, and convenient for customers to book in their own time. By simplifying the booking process and reducing friction, online booking tools can increase customer satisfaction and conversion rates to support business growth.
- Interactive menu – Most customers want to check your restaurant’s menu before visiting. An interactive menu goes one step further than simply listing what is available. It allows customers to explore your dishes in more detail, creating a more user-friendly experience and providing a great opportunity to showcase your brand’s identity and how it aligns with the food you serve.
- Photo galleries – A picture speaks a thousand words, or so the saying goes. Don’t just tell your customers what you do; show them. Photos of your restaurant’s dining environment and dishes can help show credibility, foster trust, and entice visitors to book.
- Email marketing signup – Featuring an email signup form in a prominent position on your website can encourage customers to submit their personal details in exchange for special offers, discounts, and news. Regular communication can help to foster loyalty and encourage repeat visits.
- Live social media feed – Incorporating live social media feeds on your website displays fresh and engaging content and can encourage visitors to join your online community.
- Reviews – According to BrightLocal, 98% of people read online reviews for local businesses. Featuring customer reviews on your website helps to build trust and authenticity.
Incorporating these features into your restaurant’s website design turns it into an engaging and interactive platform that offers customers value and convenience, ultimately contributing to your restaurant’s growth.
For help or advice with integrating any of these website features and functionalities with your website, contact our web design team here at Create8.
Partner with Create8 to brand, market, and grow your restaurant business
Our team at Create8 are ready to help you take your restaurant to the next level.
Whether you need support creating a cohesive brand identity or designing and building an engaging, high-performance website, our comprehensive branding and web design packages can be tailored to your business’s unique needs.
Ready to learn more about elevating your restaurant’s branding and winning more table reservations? Contact our team today.