Affordable Ways to Build Your Restaurant’s Brand
“Branding” is something every modern business has to invest in. If they don’t, their brand will build itself, and without guidance and attention, your “brand” may turn into something you never wanted in the first place.
Restaurants are not immune.
With over 600,000 restaurants in the U.S. alone, eateries have to do something to make themselves stand out. If you’re not branding your restaurant, your customers will, and it’s best to have control over the process. Here are some affordable ways to build your restaurant’s brand.
Invest in Design
Whether you own a dozen local franchises of a single restaurant or a mom-and-pop joint that’s been around for decade, your restaurant needs a “style.” Design – the colors, fonts, and overall feel you give your restaurant(s) – will stick with your customers and be part of how they segment and compare your restaurant in their mind.
Components of your restaurant’s design include:
• Your logo including the color scheme, font, and shape
• The menu itself
• The interior of the restaurant including flooring, seating, and wall décor
• Any offsite marketing
Today’s restaurant has to have a website, full stop. Your restaurant’s brand design should carry over into its digital presence – if you have a signature “red,” it should be in the restaurant and the website! When a customer visits the site they should get the same feeling they get when they visit the restaurant. This holds true for your social media presences, too, as well as any online marketing you choose to do.
Your Outreach Message
Building your brand is about making impressions on potential customers. Social media is a great way to do that cheaply, particularly if you’re able to tap into the influencer community in your local area by offering free meals. Tie-in marketing is also a smart bet; if you run a health food restaurant, advertise at a gym. If you offer late-night eats, run a digital ad through the bar next door’s Media Caddy tabletop displays. Where you put your ads is almost as important as what they say.
Consider Your In-House Experience
Once you get customers through the door, your brand-building isn’t finished. Particularly on their first visit, they’re making assumptions about what your brand stands for and noticing what you put emphasis on. If you want your restaurant’s brand to be known for its value, consider offering digital tableside specials that give customers financial incentive to come back. If your branding is more about quick and knowledgeable service, hire the right kind of staff and outfit them with the technological tools they need to serve your customers well.
Market Well and Often
Branding works best when your customers are exposed to it often. Search for high-impression advertising mediums in your area, and low-cost advertising options for restaurants, specifically. Traditional media such as radio and newspaper works well if you’re targeting a slightly older audience. Digital ads and smartphone coupons work better when targeting millennials and other tech-savvy diners. Whatever you choose to do, don’t put all your eggs in one advertising basket. A varied, diverse plan is best.
Focus on Consistency
All the branding efforts in the world don’t make a difference if your customers don’t feel consistency in your message. Not only should your food and the dining experience be consistent each time they eat with you, your voice should be consistent, too. Consider the tone in which your ads are written, and the greeting your customers receive when they walk in the front door. Want to make a change in your menu, your design, or the level of service your customers will receive? Be upfront about it rather than trying to sneak it by them. They’ll notice, and you’ll undermine your own brand.
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to brand your restaurant effectively. If your restaurant is part of a franchise or a local chain, you’re already one step ahead of the curve. The most important part? Knowing who your customers are and where you have to be to reach them.