If you decide to ask any chef what type of restaurant they would like to open, make sure to clear your schedule for a couple of hours. Sit back, relax, and listen as they unravel a restaurant concept that leaves you dreaming. Their vision goes beyond mere menus – in fact, they might not even know what dishes they would like to serve – but they know exactly how they want their guests to feel.
Some chefs want their visitors to be utterly comfortable in a warm, cozy and familiar ambience, as if eating at their grandmother’s home. Others want them to experience the opposite – something completely unfamiliar that pushes them out of their comfort zone.
They will have opinions on the choice of chairs, the menu fonts, the greeting of the guests – every detail meticulously planned. In the end, they talk more about a concept and an identity than a business. This is, in essence, what makes a restaurant successful.
In this article, we’ll delve into the same subject – the art of creating a strong, recognizable and memorable brand identity. We will guide you through the steps, discuss what aspects you should consider, and how you can bring this identity to life with practical elements like interior design and social media. Hungry yet?
Choosing an identity for your restaurant
Building a successful restaurant is about far more than picking a cuisine and menu. Food is an experience and an immersive journey. Each type of experience and each demographic demands a different type of restaurant. So how do you create a successful identity that considers both?
1. Look around the neighborhood
If you already know where you’re going to be setting up shop, have a look around. Even more fun: Go eat to the nearby restaurants.
Knowing what others are doing and how people are reacting to the existing businesses is the best way to approach your market research. Maybe you will find that there are already great cuisines in the neighborhood, but that the vibes are off. Or you may learn that a certain demographic, for instance young people, is craving something more edgy. As much as your restaurant’s identity should be authentic to who you are, it should also cater to what your neighborhood needs.
Having a food philosophy isn’t just about ingredients and cooking, but also about where and how food should be eaten. You can translate this into a whole restaurant concept.
For example, if you’re all about simple cooking with farm-fresh ingredients, your restaurant brand identity could revolve around natural elements, stripped down to the core.
3. Determining the personality of your restaurant
Imagine your restaurant as more than a place: Imagine it to be a person and the dinner host.
Picture the kind of friends that would host dinners the way you want people to experience your restaurant. Are they laid back, sharing homemade pasta and laughter, or do they want to impress you with caviar and an exquisite table setting?
Think of what details that type of person would want to highlight the most. How would you be welcomed and served? What stories would be told during dinner? Would there be a theme for the night? How would people behave?
Keeping all these things in mind will make it easier to craft an identity that translates to tangible elements.
Bringing your brand identity to life
How can you make your restaurant brand identity real and visible – something that people can touch, taste and remember?
1. Choose a name and a logo, then design a website and a menu
Pick a catchy name and a cool and memorable logo, then dive into the crative frenzy of website and menu designs that match the identity you cooked up before. Think of them as a sneak peek, a teaser of all the awesomeness that’s about to unfold. Consider how these bits and pieces would fit right into your physical space or dream big and imagine how they would work in different locations. Don’t hold back, let your imagination go wild!
2. Tie your brand identity and interior design together
You most likely wouldn’t want to eat a big, gooey and scrumptious pepperoni pizza in a white-walled restaurant with pristine table cloths and bright lights. You would feel exposed, and maybe even a bit embarrassed.
The choice of colors, the layout of the tables, the lights, the art on the walls and all the other elements of your restaurant’s interior design should be simmered in your brand identity. Interior design is not merely about aesthetics: It is another way to masterfully highlight your food.
Use interior design software to make mockups of different design versions. Test them out with an audience to find out what best matches your identity, and what would attract your customers the most.
3. Use social media to amplify your restaurant brand
People no longer just check the menu of a restaurant before they go out. They want to see an active social media presence that gives them a taste of the restaurant’s vibe before they make a decision.
Use social media strategically in your brand identity building. Don’t stop at showcasing dishes or pretty corners, but tell stories that highlight the character of your restaurant and business.
4. Train your employees and foster a solid brand culture
Your employees are not just servers, they are your ambassadors. They can make or break your restaurant brand identity, so keep that in mind when you hire and train them. Creating a work culture that puts them in a good mood and enables them to align with your vision will create a pleasant experience for your guests. When your employees understand the character of your restaurant, they will most likely share it enthusiastically with your guests.
Why a brand identity matters almost as much as a menu does
People might first come for the menu, but they return for the experience. It is important to understand that a strong brand is not just a garnish, but a key ingredient in the success of your business.
A strong restaurant brand identity enables you to command not just attention, but also price points. The average profit margins for restaurants are pushed down a lot by food prices. Yet you can only raise the price of a dish to a certain point, because people roughly understand how much ingredients might cost. You can however put an extra price on the experience, which is heavily indebted to the way you emphasize your brand identity. Therefore, a strong brand identity can lead to higher profitability.
Remember that people have plenty of choices when they pick a restaurant, and that yours should stand out on all fronts.
Ready for service?
Enjoying food in a restaurant is about much more than what is on the plate: It is about all that surrounds your customers – the interior, the staff, the vibe. A brand identity helps you tie all elements together and create a restaurant concept that makes people hungry for more.
What tools can help me with interior design?
When crafting the visual atmosphere and identity of your restaurant, interior design tools like Foyr and other industry-standard software can be invaluable in getting your first ideas ready, before you start working with a professional party. You can first create a plan that aligns with your culinary vision, and explore the possibilities that you can later explore with a design or branding agency.
How do I translate my food philosophy into a brand?
While food is at the heart of your restaurant, the vision around it can be translated to other elements, beyond what goes on a plate. Let this vision infuse every aspect of your restaurant. It begins with understanding what your food represents, be it innovation, tradition or sustainability, and exploring how you can extend that to other parts of your restaurant. Don’t just think about what you want people to eat, but also how you want them to eat it, and what you want them to associate your restaurant with. You are not just serving a meal; you are serving an experience.
What role do employees play in brand identity?
Employees bring your brand’s identity to life and are a crucial piece of the brand identity puzzle. They are not just serving your guests: They embody your restaurant’s personality, values and ethos. By providing training, fostering continuous engagement, and educating them about your philosophy, you can transform them into authentic brand ambassadors.
How does a strong brand contribute to higher profitability?
A strong brand is more than a marketing strategy: It is a business asset that directly affects your bottom line. When people identify with your brand, they are more likely to return, recommend it to others, and even willingly pay a premium for the experience you offer.
If you are thinking to open a new business or are in the process of rebranding and remodeling your existing business, contact us to get a free consultation from Mindful Design Consulting. Click HERE to price your project design.
Also, take a look at the “Branding By Interior” e-book, the only book written on this subject at this time. It brings insight into how you can turn your business into a market-dominating competitor by using human cognitive responses.