What is Restaurant Branding and How to Develop Your Brand?

Restaurant branding is all around us. On the billboards we pass, in the ads we watch on television, and in the coupons that we receive in our mailboxes. 

Restaurant branding makes your restaurant immediately recognizable to customers. It helps them identify your restaurant simply by the name, logo, or other visual elements. For example, when we see an orange M and a blue B, we immediately recognize it as Mary Brown’s logo. 

Restaurant branding is so powerful because it creates emotional connections and recalls memories associated with the restaurant, which inspires a craving to re-experience those memories once more. When we see that orange M and blue B, for instance, we are reminded of a cherished memory or a heartwarming ad we saw the night before and feel the urge to re-experience or re-create those memories.

You can probably see now why restaurant branding is so important. Branding is an important part of running a successful restaurant. But you may be asking yourself: what exactly is it, and how you can develop your own brand? In this article, we will explore each of these questions and show you how you can develop a strong restaurant brand that will leave a lasting impression.

What is Restaurant Branding?

Restaurant branding communicates the identity and personality of your restaurant to consumers and includes things like your restaurant’s name, logo, colours, interior design, staff uniforms, menu options, music, and more. It is what distinguishes your restaurant from other restaurants. A restaurant brand is what makes your restaurant stand out from the crowd.

How to Develop Your Brand?

Branding for restaurants, when done right, is a powerful and effective way to encourage customer loyalty and attract new customers. But how do you develop a restaurant brand that leaves a lasting impression on your target market?

In this section, we will cover various aspects of a successful restaurant branding strategy to help you develop a restaurant brand that leaves customers wanting more.

1. Define Your Brand: The Concept

The first step in any restaurant branding strategy is to define your brand or develop the concept for your restaurant. Before you can broadcast your brand to the world and share what makes your restaurant unique, you must first define and refine your brand for yourself. 

Ask yourself: who are you? what are you doing? and why are you doing it? Your answers to these questions will help set the foundation for your restaurant branding strategy. Reflect on the story of how you got started, what matters to you, and where you want to end up. 

Having a clear understanding of your restaurant concept will help you develop a compelling and powerful restaurant brand. Knowing your product, target audience, and competitors will help you develop your mission statement, values, and tagline.


a. Know Your Product

Before you can develop your restaurant brand, you need to know your product. What do you have to offer and how does it differ from other products on the market? What makes your products unique? How much will you charge? What types of food will you include on your menu and what are your signature dishes? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you refine your brand and define it more clearly. 


b. Identify Your Target Audience

Your target audience is the customer base you ideally want to serve. They are the people your restaurant brand is targeting. When identifying your target market, consider their geographic location, demographics, behaviour, and lifestyle. Know your target audience inside out, including the things they like, don’t like, need, and want. This will help you develop a brand that caters to your intended audience and resonates more powerfully with them.


c. Understand Your Competition

When developing branding for restaurants, knowing what makes your restaurant brand unique or different from others is one of the most important things to know. But you cannot know what makes your brand different if you don’t know your competition. 

As you define and refine your brand, you will get to know more about your competitors, but you may want to do some competitor research to better understand what makes your restaurant brand unique. Researching your competitors will not only help you determine what makes your restaurant unique but can also give you inspiration for your own.


d. Identify Your Mission Statement and Values

Now that you have a better idea of what makes your restaurant unique and have defined and refined your restaurant brand a little more, it’s time to develop a mission statement and identify your values. Your restaurant’s values and mission statement express your business goals and purpose. These will serve as a guiding principle for your restaurant brand, influencing every other restaurant branding decision you make.

Your mission statement should clearly indicate your restaurant’s main purpose or why your restaurant exists. Ask yourself what you hope to achieve. What is your goal? Why did you decide to open a restaurant? What are you working towards?

Your restaurant values articulate what you believe in and stand for. Your values should relate to your mission statement. If your mission statement is the end goal for your restaurant, then your values are the steps toward achieving that goal.  Your values should work in the service of your mission statement. They outline the things you care about, what’s important to you, and what you hope to see reflected in your brand and service.


2. Develop Your Brand Identity:

Once you have defined and refined your brand concept, you are ready to develop your brand identity. This is where you will develop your brand’s image and voice. Use the information you obtained from the previous step to develop your brand identity, creating brand guidelines that will inform the rest of your design choices. This identity must align with your audience, mission statement, and values. 


a. Develop your brand’s voice

Your brand voice must be consistent with your brand concept. One way to do this is to create writing style guides to establish and maintain a brand voice that is consistent across the board. 

A writing style guide defines your brand’s tone, voice, and use of language. Use this style guide when developing your menu copy, website copy, emails, promotions, and social media to ensure consistency in voice, tone, and style. Consistency is key to developing a strong, clear, immediately recognizable brand.

Voice refers to your brand’s angle or perspective. Your mission statement and values should come through in your brand’s voice.

Tone refers to how that voice sounds in written and verbal communications. It encompasses your brand’s attitude and level of formality. Do you want to sound formal or informal? Light and simple? Serious and reflective?

Style relates to both tone and voice and refers to the language you use to convey your brand to the public. Your language choices help to develop tone and voice.


b. Develop Your Visual Identity

Visual style guides, like writing style guides, set out the standards for how you convey your brand visually. You want to develop a consistent visual style, taking into account the overall appearance of your brand, as well as the colours and the typography you want to use. Ensure that it is not only consistent across communications, but that it is consistent with your writing style and brand concept to ensure cohesive restaurant branding. 

Consider whether you want your overall image to be modern, elegant, and sophisticated, or warm, homey, and welcoming. Remember to draw on your mission statement and values when creating the visual identity for your restaurant. Every brand asset (i.e. logo, menu, interior), whether visual or written, must relate back to the vision conceived in your brand concept.

A few things to consider when developing your restaurant brand’s visual identity:

  • Colours: colours have a significant impact on psychology. Certain colours can make customers feel certain ways, so you want to choose your colours wisely. Try sticking to colours that are naturally found in foods. Avoid purple and blue as these colours are seldom found naturally in foods and have been found to decrease appetite. You want to choose warm colours, like orange, red, and yellow, as they have been shown to increase appetite and elicit joy. Green is another good colour choice as it is often associated with healthy eating.
  • Typography: typography refers to the fonts you use and how you use them in your design. When choosing a font for your restaurant brand, the most important thing to consider is brand appropriateness and legibility. Whichever font you choose, it must be easy to read. However, at the same time, you want your font to align with your brand personality. So choose fonts that meet these criteria. It’s best to choose at least two fonts, one for headlines and the other for copy.
  • Imagery: images can be used to forge a deep emotional connection with your target audience. If you choose to use images, then it’s important that you choose images that clearly align with and communicate your mission and values. The right image on a billboard, website, ad, or social media page can potentially earn you a new customer.


3. Designing Your Restaurant Brand

Once you have your brand concept and have developed your brand identity, you are ready to design your restaurant’s brand. This includes everything from your restaurant’s name and logo to the interior decor of your restaurant. Use your style guides, values, and mission statement as blueprints to create each of these brand assets.


a. Name

Every restaurant has a unique name. Choosing a good name for your restaurant is the first step to designing the branding for your restaurant. The name should be memorable and unique, but relevant. It needs to reflect your brand and give people a sense of what to expect from your restaurant.


b. Logo

Your restaurant’s logo is one of the most important assets when it comes to branding for your restaurant. A logo is a visual element that tells your customers about your restaurant. If your restaurant branding strategy is successful, customers should immediately recognize your brand from just your logo.

Logos should be simple, memorable, and communicate a lot about your business. They may simply be the name of your restaurant or its initials in a unique font or else be a symbol of some sort. The logo should feature colours and designs that are consistent with your brand identity. Whatever you decide to do, you want to ensure that your logo captures your vision for the restaurant and resonates with customers.


c. Website

Before people decide to visit your establishment, they will more than likely look up your restaurant online to learn more. This is why having a website for your restaurant is so important. 

Create a website that remains consistent with your brand identity, making sure to include the following information:

  • Your restaurant’s story
  • Your mission statement and values
  • An introduction to your chef
  • The menu 
  • Photos of the food
  • Photos of the interior
  • Information about reservations (if applicable)
  • The location
  • Hours of operation
  • Contact information

d. Social Media

Like your restaurant’s website, your restaurant’s social media platforms may be the first point of contact some people have with your establishment, so it’s important to leave them with a good first impression. For this reason, it’s worth investing some time and energy into creating and maintaining a strong social media presence.

People often choose to follow the social media profiles of their favourite restaurants so it’s important to ensure that your brand remains consistent across all platforms. The photos and the language you use on these platforms are ways to express your brand. To ensure it remains consistent, consult your style guides and create templates for social media graphics that feature your logo, fonts, and colours.


e. Menu

Your menu directly connects people to your food. It is the first design element that they will interact with in your establishment, so you want to make sure that it looks appealing, professional, and on-brand. Use words, font, colour, and images to not only communicate your brand identity but also give customers a taste of what’s to come.


f. Interior design & Ambiance

The interior design and ambiance of your restaurant contributes to your restaurant’s branding. Everything from serving ware, table decor, packaging, signage, your staff’s attire, and customer service manners contributes towards your restaurant’s branding. You want to ensure that all these elements match your brand and come together to create a distinctive, harmonious, and pleasant atmosphere. 

Use your style guides and brand concept to direct your interior design and ambiance choices. Guests remember how they felt at a restaurant, so you should fine-tune every aspect of your restaurant’s interior design and ambiance so that it adheres to your brand while creating a comfortable dining experience. Doing this will help strengthen your brand identity and ensure that it remains cohesive across all your assets.

Branding for restaurants isn’t always easy to do, but if done correctly, it always pays off. Following this restaurant branding strategy will help you create a powerful, unique, and compelling restaurant brand that appeals to consumers and creates memorable customer experiences. 

Restaurant branding isn’t for everyone. If you want to open a restaurant of your own but don’t want to deal with the hassles of creating a restaurant brand, then consider franchising. One of the benefits of joining an established franchise is that you will already have an established, immediately recognizable brand.

Looking to franchise with Mary Brown’s? Inquire now to learn about immediate franchise opportunities in your area or contact our friendly staff today to learn more.

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