Restaurant Marketing – Branding

Successful restaurant marketing is contingent on more than simply sending some coupons and taking out a yellow page ad. Branding your restaurant – for your food, your atmosphere and your customers – has as much to do with your restaurant’s success as your location. Unless you have zero competition (which is next to impossible), you need an intelligent branding strategy to earn the customer loyalty that will keep you in business for decades to come.

Importance of a branded image

Branding is important because people purchase on emotion. When it comes to restaurant marketing, they want to feel that they’re eating the highest quality food prepared with care just for them. It’s important to identify and promote your branded identity so you can connect with your target audience at a glance. If your restaurant is not branded, then you’re just another restaurant. There’s nothing that separates you from the competition.

This reduces your potential customer pool to make choices based on factors such as price, convenience and preconceived notions. Without a branded identity, you have no control over preconceptions and therefore you’re forced to compete on pricing and location alone. This is not a way to grow your restaurant. Cheap does not outsell quality, especially in the restaurant industry. This is why franchises such as Papa Johns Pizza have gone to great lengths to market the fact that their ingredients are fresh.

Branding goes beyond locale as well. If you have franchise aspirations, successful branding is critical. Remember that McDonald’s began as a single restaurant in San Bernardino.

How to identify your branded image

Consider how you’re different from your competitors. What do you offer that they don’t (or that they don’t promote)? If you’re the only place to get fresh fish in town, identifying your brand niche is relatively easy; but if there’s massive competition it can be more difficult. Perhaps you have the best food in town, a master chef at work, or provide a particular atmosphere well-suited to your audience (such as a bistro, night club or family restaurant).

To help you define what type of restaurant you are, consider the features and benefits you offer your diners. Understand the distinction between the two. For example, having a world-class chef on-hand is a feature; guaranteeing that your customers will enjoy their food is a benefit. List all of your features and benefits, and pick the most important that also differentiate you from the competition to base your brand on.

Branding through design

Skilled graphic design can transform your restaurant’s branded identity from a concept to a visual motivator. This image is what the world will see, and your customers will perceive the ideals and emotions that your image expresses. The power of graphic design is limitless, especially when you incorporate sound brand identity design principles for your restaurant.

Food is a visual motivator in and of itself, but when you take care to snap the best photos of the right dishes for your target audience and present them in a fresh, crisp light, you can make mouths water through something as simple as a postcard or poster. Your restaurant branded designs should not only say what you offer, but what your customers will experience when they visit your establishment.

Your restaurant colors, logo, corporate identity package, website and other print marketing materials are all a reflection of your brand; so familiar, cohesive design must be applied to all mediums. The goal is for your prospects to be able to glance at your material and instantly recognize who it’s from and what you stand for. When you achieve this, you’ve developed a powerful restaurant brand identity.

Personal Brand Marketing – Brand Buzz 101

I understand the importance of visibility. As a small business owner, being “known” can be the difference between a steady flow of revenue or closing your doors. Yet, being visible is not enough. Being remembered is most important and means you occupy some prime real estate in the mind of someone. Garnering “share of mind” means that you somewhere along the way they sampled your character and competence and you became memorable.

Marketing, by definition, is creating an exchange environment. For an individual, that could mean exchanging a referral, speaking positively on your behalf, a promotion or an introduction. Branding, by definition, is an emotion or image tied to a product. YOU are the product. Even in businesses, people are the brand and define the company, more than any mere mission statement hanging in the lobby. So, how does an individual create “buzz” for their brand for visibility and more importantly to be remembered so that they can develop credibility?

1. Know what makes you unique.

Whether you’re job hunting or wanting a position on board of director’s, you need to confidently know what value you bring to the table.

2. Get really good at communicating what makes you valuable.

Ninety-three percent of communication is tone and body language. Spend time on the words so that what you say and how you communicate are congruent with your value. Yet, know that communication includes your image, the way you present yourself, your workspace, your phone skills and even your lunch meeting etiquette. They must all be congruent with what makes you valuable. Any discrepancies will jeopardize your credibility and could produce negative word of mouth which is a problem that I will address in future articles.

3. Manage that communication.

If you’re creating “buzz” around your brand, it will require you proactively managing the communication. For example, if you’re new to a company or a position you will need to build a credibility wall. Yes, a physical wall if possible. It showcases every plaque, certificate, service honor, licensing, certification and degree you’ve received. This wall is your visual third party testimonial on the character and competence of your brand. Since that wall cannot travel with you, make sure that anytime you’re honored for volunteer service or recognized for a contribution that a copy of the “thank you” letter, note or card be placed into you personnel file.

Even if you’re on your own, these “proof of credibility” tools will take you far. As the vice president of a business fraternity in college, I booked speakers to speak to our fraternity for professional development. I asked each of them to write a letter for me about their experience working with me so that I could include that in my personal portfolio. Many of these speakers went on to become regional directors, chief operation officers, chief financial officers, company presidents and further that my portfolio has become quite valuable. Actively “buzz” your brand! Doing that will develop credibility; credibility will lead to influence; and influence with lead to leadership.

Legal Marketing – Branding Your Social Media

Social media has become a major talking point in the realm of marketing and business development. Today, almost every professional has a LinkedIn profile, if not a blog and a twitter account. Whether or not you choose to participate in any of the above, you should know that everything that’s put out into the world needs to reflect your personal brand.

Think about the market you have decided to focus on and tailor your online presence to attract them. What does your bio say about you? Does your firm have a LinkedIn page? If you tweet, what does your Twitter page look like? Does your picture reflect your visual brand? Is your logo clear and recognizable? Here are a few of my favorite tips for making sure your social media is on the right course:

Again, keep it consistent. My own blog is very clearly branded. It uses my signature black and complements the color with the same tones as my books and website. Even the title reflects my brand-both in the “black and white” and the meaning behind it. I give simple, straightforward advice; black is my signature color. That’s a personal brand. Content is the same idea… stick to what your target audience wants to know and don’t get off track. Make contact information easily visible and identifiable and always put your logo in a prominent place.

Though it may be harder to brand from a design point of view, you can still be aware of your personal branding when it comes to your LinkedIn account. First, be diligent about updating your information; second, be sure to link to your website, blog or twitter; and third, join networking groups that directly relate back to your area of expertise.

If you choose to tweet, make sure you’re staying on topic. Create a filter for the subject of your tweets and make sure all content stays within that filter. On the design side, take advantage of the availability of a custom background. Personalize it with your contact info (or at least your website or blog) and keep colors, logos and photos consistent with your branding. Let people instantly recognize that this is YOUR page and know what to expect.

A few other quick design tips?
• Make sure your logo or tagline plays a prominent role as soon as the page appears.
• Stick with the same colors and fonts as your website, brochure or business cards, (no need to look like a twin sister, but it should look like a family member).
• Be organized in the way you think out placement of buttons such as “search” or “archives” and make sure they are easily spotted.
• Make sure headlines look like headlines and not simply blocks of copy and use links or quotes to enhance the readability of your posts.

Whatever medium you choose to participate in, remember to ask yourself one important question: Can someone easily identify the blog as YOURS upon first glance? That doesn’t mean intricate design or flashy graphics, it simply means bringing a sense of organization to the visuals and reflecting your brand in the color, fonts and logos used. Stay true to your personal branding and you’re on the right track.