How to Get Started Branding Your New Restaurant

Beata Grace Beatty

Beata is a Florida-based freelance writer. When she’s not researching and pitching story ideas, she’s reading, walking on the beach, fiddling with home projects, and keeping up with her two daughters.

Branding your new restaurant is vital to building a first-rate reputation and customer base, but what is a brand identity? Hubspot defines it as the message your brand communicates, your values and what you want customers to feel when they dine. As you outline your concept, focus on defining your product, your mission and what qualities you want customers to associate with your restaurant. There are five key steps to take to create your brand.

People walking by a large McDonalds brand logo

Conduct market research

The most relevant question to answer is, does it make sense to open your restaurant concept or food truck? You can determine this by answering the following questions:

  • Who are your competitors?
  • Do customers want what you are selling?
  • Can you get customers in the door?

Analyze data and demographic information from trade organizations like the National Restaurant Association and the U.S. Small Business Administration. Check out information from your local chamber of commerce. Shop the competition. Talk to potential customers. When you’ve determined your niche, make the next move.

Hire a marketing vendor

Consider your goals and your overall identity when making this decision. You might hesitate to hire a professional due to budgetary constraints, a perception that marketing is simple, or you don’t want to relinquish control. Modern marketing is sophisticated. Hiring a vendor can save you money and time and ensure you stay on brand.

Agencies. Top restaurant marketers like the Food Group and Gourmet Marketing have decades of hospitality experience, are versed in top trends, launch products, and are aware of most challenges and opportunities in the restaurant business.

Freelancer. Freelance marketing professionals also have restaurant-specific experience, and the significant advantage of affordability when you are on a shoestring budget.

If it’s out of the question to hire help, there are many resources to do the marketing yourself.

Keep your brand consistent

The brand is your promise that customers can trust your product time after time. Consistency leads to loyalty. Consider the people and places that communicate your brand. These include the space, food and drink, positive and negative customer feedback, staff engagement, and marketing. Every choice should imprint the brand in the minds of your customers.

Invest in your logo and menu design

Some of the most impressionable marketing materials you create will be the logo and the menu.

Logo. Remember that the logo is not your brand, but it’s a valuable marketing component that conveys your brand image and often pushes a customer to choose you over the competition.

Menu. Your menu is another vital tool to convey your identity to customers. Developing your menu focuses your business goals, establishes your budget, and entices patrons to keep coming back.

A professional graphic designer can create a memorable and professional image that leaves a lasting and positive impression. Graphic designers can also create beautiful hand-lettered signs and personalized graphics for marketing materials, but the personalization shouldn’t stop here.

Partner with an interior designer

A major component of brand image is the restaurant space. You have established a solid brand concept that should guide the restaurant design. An interior designer is an expert in not only in décor but also in understanding space and maximizing functionality.

Communication is essential. Give your consultant examples of what you want and what you don’t want. Scour Pinterest boards, Houzz, and online catalogs for ideas. Be specific in your vision. Start an idea book and add to it. Share the marketing plan, logo, menu, and any relevant materials with the designer. Talk about your needs for the front and back of the house. Do you need storage or office space? The design and functionality will add directly to your overall brand.

Ultimately, branding your restaurant is a comprehensive endeavor. Be devoted to quality products, outstanding service, consistency, and ongoing communication with customers, vendors, and staff. Engage your customers by invariably offering experiences that reinforce your product and identity. Hire professionals to elevate your image. Don’t stop when the doors open. Engage in uniform marketing, educate yourself in industry trends, and reevaluate your brand often.

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