Your restaurant’s branding may not always be top of mind but does that mean you’re leaving money on the proverbial table?
As a restaurant owner, your primary goal is to make food that your customers love. Secondly, you want to provide an unforgettable experience—something that makes your diners return again and again. But, in the age of Instagram stories, YouTube celebrities, and Facebook reviews–offering great meals isn’t enough to make your restaurant successful.
So how do you get the eyes and ears of your diner without getting lost in a sea of updates, tweets, and pictures?
Today we’re looking at some easy (and manageable) ways to up-level your restaurant’s branding.
Restaurant Branding 101: Target Audience
At its core, your restaurant brand represents your promise to your customers. It’s all of the elements that identify who your business is, what its solutions are to the problems and needs of your customers, and how your solutions are unique from other similar businesses (known as a “unique selling proposition”).
Identifying who your business is and how you fulfill the needs and problems of your customers requires that you actually know who your customers are. Their perception of your brand is what forms your brand identity and having a concise and clear brand voice helps create a relationship between you and your customers.
The very first thing you should do before you begin evaluating your brand and before you begin building your brand identity is to identify who your target audience actually is.
We put the statement above in bold because it truly is THAT important. The most effective way to identify your target audience is by developing buyer personas that represent your ideal customers. Buyer personas are fictional representations that include things like demographics, behaviors, motivations, needs, goals, and more. Having these buyer personas will allow you to make more informed branding decisions.
For example, if your buyer persona is more family-oriented, then creating a high-class dining space with elegant decor isn’t exactly going to draw in your target audience.
Need more help getting started with these? We have your back! Check out this easy How To for creating kickass personas!
Evaluating Your Restaurant Branding Efforts
Once you get your personas in order–what next? Take a look at the following properties to see if your branding makes the cut.
Your restaurant website
One of the most important parts of an effective marketing strategy is a consistent message. For example, if you’re a family-friendly restaurant, this needs to be obvious from the home page on. Even the language you use should reflect your brand. If you’re running a fine dining establishment, then more sophisticated language is appropriate, whereas a more casual, fun tone will work better if you’re operating a sports bar and grill. The tone and message should be consistent on all of your webpages, and you should use colors and fonts that reflect those that you’ve chosen for your brand’s logo.
Something to consider: According to Modern Restaurant, 75% of diners look up information online before making their choice to visit a restaurant. This means your website, may in fact, be your first chance at getting new business.
Your social media presence
You should be using social media regularly to interact with your audience. Social media is not only one of the most effective ways to engage with existing and potential customers, it also allows you to show some of your brand’s personality, which makes it easier for your audience to connect and relate to your brand. Additionally, using social media to address concerns or answer questions can help build your brand’s reputation.
Something to consider: According to Sprout Social, 88% of people are influenced by reviews and online comments. In other studies, people are 96% MORE likely to visit a business their friends and peers have recommended on social.
Your menu design
Like the design of your website, the design of your menu should reflect who you are. Are you a get-your-hands-dirty laminated BBQ pit? Are you a posh, Instagram-able locally made paper kind of place? Your menu is a reflection of who you are and what experience your diners can expect when they visit. Additionally, keep your brand consistent by using the same basic visual scheme as your site by using similar fonts and colors.
Something to consider: Did you know one of the ways that Starbucks helps their customers spend MORE is all about their menu design? Yup. You have a handful of milliseconds to show your worth through the design of your brand to your potential diners. Make those milliseconds count with excellent design!
Your restaurant’s ambiance and design
If you’ve presented yourself as one type of restaurant on your website and social pages but are a completely different restaurant in person, you’re going to drive away potential customers. The design and layout of your restaurant should reflect the perception that your audience has of you–creating continuity between your physical space and your digital space is crucial in delivering the experience that your diners expect (and results in WAAAAY more of those 5 star Yelp reviews!).
Something to consider: The psychology of color and design plays a crucial role in diner spending habits. Want a diner to spend more? Dimmed lighting instills a sense of privacy that lets their subconscious go into TREAT YO’SELF mode. Shades of green can actually make your diners FEEL hungrier. This article by Mashed has some awesome tricks to turn your ambiance into $$$.
Your Google My Business profile
Google is making changes to both organic and local searches and Google My Business is on the forefront of both. If you don’t have a Google My Business profile set up for your location(s) check out a recent blog post created to help you get started! If you already have a GMB profile, make sure it’s as optimized and as up to date as possible so Google deems you worthy of the SERPS!
Something to consider: According to this WordStream post, 97% of consumers looked online for local businesses last year. Those are a lot of eyeballs (and wallets) you’re missing out on if you’re not up to speed on Google My Business best practices.
Restaurant branding can take time, energy, and bandwidth but, in the end, an increase in revenue is well worth the effort. Be authentic, be consistent, be local, and be present!