Marketers will tell you that a well-maintained brand is essential to get ahead in any industry, including the restaurant business. Often restaurateurs, especially those who operate small restaurants, get engulfed in trying to keep the business afloat and they leave brand development to chance. However, a strong brand can help build customer loyalty, which is essential to the survival of any business.
Building your restaurant’s brand goes far deeper than getting the right logo, colours or decor. Basically a brand is made up of the feelings and thoughts that people have about your business based on the experiences they’ve had. This also includes what they have heard about your business, even if they have never set foot inside your restaurant or tasted your food. Just think about it, how many brands do you have an opinion of, even though you have never used their products and services? Which restaurant do you want to visit as soon as you get the opportunity, based on what you have heard? So your brand is not what you say it is. It is, instead, what other people say it is.
However, you still have an important part to play to influence the narrative about your brand. As you build your restaurant, bear in mind that you are also building a brand. At every touch-point that consumers get to experience your brand, you need to be sending out a uniform message. Touch-points are where your customers interact with your restaurant. This could be at the restaurant itself, over the phone, across all advertising media, on your website or social media channels. In order to come up with messaging that genuinely represents your brand, you need to first outline your mission and vision.
Outline your brand’s reason for existence
Your mission statement should be up to two sentences long. It serves to outline why you are in business and explains the value that you bring to customers.
Your vision statement provides a picture of how you want your restaurant to be in the future, the role that it will play in the industry and in the community.
Think about the value you bring
Once you have outlined your mission and vision, you will be in a better position to write out your positioning statement. This basically means you define what you offer, what makes it unique and who you offer the service to.
Your positioning statement is important because it will help you focus on two important things: your unique offering as well as your target customers. This will shape the tone of your messaging and your choice of advertising media.
Decide on your brand’s personality
The next step will be to figure out what your brand personality is. There are 12 brand archetypes, and you can decide on one or two, that capture the essence of your brand. Choosing more than two may make your brand seem indecisive and dodgy. The brand archetype you select will influence your restaurant’s tone of voice such as using humour, taking advantage of social commentary or using prim and proper language.
Your brand’s personality will also influence the logo and colours that you use. In addition, for your restaurant to stand out in print and social media, your image treatment should be consistent with your brand colours and stay uniform across all channels. You could develop brand guidelines that show how your logo, colours and fonts are to be used.
Involve your staff
In order to get your branding right, involve your staff from the get-go. Ask for their opinions. Since they interact with customers more than you, they probably know what people are already thinking about your brand. Once they are involved in the brand development process, they will be more willing to live up to your brand standards. Also, train them on the sort of service that you expect to be associated with your brand. Remember that your brand is based on people’s experiences with your restaurant. So your service levels have to live up to your customers’ expectations, otherwise, your other brand initiatives will be in vain.
When you up your service levels and focus on delivering consistent messaging at all times, you will build a restaurant brand that will encourage customer loyalty.