restaurant branding

5 Steps for Creating a High-Quality Restaurant Brand

In order for your restaurant to thrive in today’s competitive market, you need to have a strong brand. A well-branded restaurant will help you attract customers and set you apart from the competition. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at five steps for creating a high-quality restaurant brand.

According to a 2020 National Restaurant Association report, there are more than 1 million restaurants in the United States making up a $659 billion industry. In September of 2020 alone, 6,497 restaurants opened their doors to the public... and that was amidst a global pandemic. So what you should be asking now is, “How will my restaurant stand out?” This is where high- quality branding will give you the competitive edge. Due to the sheer size of the restaurant industry, simple text logos and afterthought names no longer cut it. We’ll take a look 5 steps to get your branding off to a head start.

1. Set your value proposition.

Alright, we jumped in quick but stick with us! A value proposition is just a fancy way of defining the type of restaurant you want to run and serves as a great diving board into the world of branding. Assuming you have spent a significant amount of time thinking about the restaurant you want to open, this is where you decide what you’ll look like to the public and what you’ll offer back to the community. Ask yourself, “why should someone eat at my restaurant?”, and you have your value proposition. It’s as simple as defining why you care about what you are doing and why others should too.

2. Define your purpose and principles.

Why do you want to start a restaurant? This “why” is the first step to defining your purpose and principles. There’s a story behind every restaurant and sharing that story makes the experience even more valuable to customers. To expand a little more, your purpose is why you get up every morning and think about this restaurant until you shut your eyes again at night. What guides your decisions, helps set your goals and gives your work meaning? Maybe you found a love Italian cuisine growing up in Grandma’s kitchen or spent some time working on a farm and saw the flavorful difference of farm-to-table. Find your story and share it! Going hand-in-hand with your purpose are your brand’s defining principles. These are the values found in Grandma’s kitchen or on the farm that help bring about the sense of purpose we just spoke about. It could be anything from fresh made pasta daily or produce grown in your own backyard all the way to ensuring operations are carbon neutral or staff are paid a living wage.

💡 Started by three friends, all active members of their local community, Comfort Kitchen is a community meeting space, and a food incubator dedicated to fostering collaboration, cross-cultural understanding, and community engagement. Following two months of research on the experience of the Dorchester and Roxbury, MA community, the idea for Comfort Kitchen was born with the understanding that food is a vital aspect of community building. In practice, the restaurant is committed to supporting local food entrepreneurs that are helping create a more conscious and culturally competent world through their food.

3. Picture your perfect customer.

Nope, don’t even think about it. Your perfect customer will never be everyone so let’s just get that off the table. Instead, we’ll dream a bit. Imagine your restaurant fully packed. It’s a cool summer night, perfect for the outdoor seating area or windows letting in the breeze. Now think about what type of people are sitting at the tables. They may look different, but dwell on what brought them inside. Larger groups might indicate you have created a community gathering place, families with small children note your family- friendliness, a louder atmosphere and smaller tables might point towards a date night spot. There’s something an audience can tell you about a place and catering to the right one will ensure your restaurant is worth visiting again.

4. Compare yourself to the competition.

It’s no secret that the competition is steep. And while you may not be competing with the other 1 million+ restaurants in the US, you probably have a good amount of competitors where you plan to set up shop, so it’s time to make some comparisons. Start by taking a deep look at the other establishments in your area and figure out what they are doing to get customers in their doors. Then decide whether you’re going to do it better or do it differently. One way to get a bird's eye view of your competitive market would be to set up a positioning matrix like the one seen here for a taco shop. A positioning matrix can be made up of any characteristics that define other restaurants in your area and help you get an idea of where there is a gap in the market that your concept could fill.

5 Steps for Creating a High-Quality Restaurant Brand Positioning Matrix

5. Develop your brand identity.

Time to combine! Gather all your values, competition insight, vision of the perfect customer, purpose, and principles and use these to create a visual understanding of your brand. Developing your brand identity is a four-part process consisting of deciding on a name for your restaurant, picking a color palette, choosing your typography, and designing a logo.

Naming

You may already have a name in mind, but these brand exercises we just went through should play an integral part in the final decision on naming your restaurant. Remember, the name you decide on should align well with your brand purpose and principles so choose wisely!

💡 Mainvest alum business, Chez Casa, is a globally-inspired comfort food restaurant. The name, Chez Casa, translates to “at home” in many languages, securing their brand as a place to find home-inspired meals from across the world.

Color Palette

Did you know that, according to science, colors actually have the ability to affect feelings? Choosing a color palette may be influenced by your own tastes but we recommend taking a look at a color psychology wheel like the one linked here when choosing brand colors. This can also play a role in interior design. It’s the little things that make the difference!

Typography

The best tip we have when it comes to typography for a brand is to choose a few fonts and stick with them. Too many fonts will make you look disorganized. Ideally, you should have one font for your logo and other major call-outs, one font for smaller headings on things such as menus, and a last font for body text. Ensure that the fonts you choose go well together by referencing a guide like this one from Canva AND ensure they bring out the essence of your restaurant brand.

Logo

A logo can be as simple as an application of your typography chosen or can include other things such as a custom icon. Again, your logo should convey your brand's purposes and principles. The idea is to represent your restaurant in a visually appealing way.


Written by Lauren Murdock

Lauren is Mainvest's Content Marketing Manager. She is an expert in marketing strategy and leads content generation for Mainvest.

posted January 27, 2022
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