Positioning your company in the global market can be quite the challenge. There are so many different factors you cannot influence, branding becomes business’s ace to expand its customer base. Things are especially difficult for hospitality services as more and more restaurants are being opened and offer online food ordering. This means that restaurant operators need to up their game and find ways of beating the rest of their market.
As we have stated earlier, branding is the best weapon to fight off the competition. What you sell, where you sell, who sells it for you, etc., are all question that needs to be answered with thoughtful consideration. This is the responsibility of your marketing strategy to create a memorable brand that will get guests coming back to your restaurant.
Let’s take a look what the aspects of restaurant branding you should think about.
Choose Your Restaurant’s Location Wisely
Apart from restaurant franchises or independent restaurants that have been owned by a single family for generations, most restaurant owners lease the space they operate in. Your accountant might not like this fact, but not actually owning the building can be a good thing. This allows you to choose the best possible location where you’ll have the biggest number of potential guests. It also gives you more flexibility to move, should the need arise.
However, before you decide to move into a new area, be sure to conduct research of the market to see if your brand will last long. The most important segment of the market is examining the competition. If there are too many restaurants in the area, then you might be faced with an uphill struggle and a certain but painful bankruptcy right from the very start.
Ideally, look for locations that are inside or close to residential areas that are frequented by a lot of people on daily basis, and areas that don’t have many restaurants with a menu similar to yours. You want to stand out from the competition, not blend in.
Team Up with Other Businesses
Once the most important aspects of any good marketing strategy is the incorporation of the brand inside the greater business community. You can probably see your staff going out for a smoke with the lady from the coffee joint next door. This cooperation on a lower and informal scale should give you a pretty good idea of how you should reach out to other hospitality businesses in your area.
For example: the aforementioned coffee shop would be an excellent place to source your pastry to and, in return, they can provide you with coffee. If you team up with a brewery, then you’ll always have craft beer that can go excellent with the meals you serve. The same principle goes to local pizza shops, ice cream parlors, and even dry cleaners that can take care of those pesky stains on table sheets.
Answer the “Who” Questions
Having well established your business inside the local community, it is time to answer who you really are. This might seem silly to novices in brand marketing, but precisely defining what product you are selling or what type of services you are offering is essential for the success of any business, including your restaurant.
Firstly, you need to answer who you are, i.e. what type of restaurant are you. What is your theme? What sort of food and drink do you sell? Are you a evening/night-life location or an all-day business? Is food delivery an integral part of your market identity or is it just an extra service you offer?
The next big question is who your target clientele is. A restaurant is open to all people but depending on the location and how the franchise is branded, it is clear that most restaurants do have a target clientele. So what is yours? Furthermore, what is it that you are offering them? Is it catering, online ordering, self-service, book-a-seat for a fancy dinner? There are many similar questions to answer which is why you are developing a brand strategy in order to answer them all before the first guest walk through the front door.
Give Your Brand Visual Identity
We all know what McDonald’s or KFC’s logos look like, but their success story did not happen overnight. Their managements gave great thought to the company’s visual identity — the logo was just a part of. In fact, graphics, the color pattern, the façade, the menu, and the interior décor all combine together to account for the overall visual identity of the company. A picture is worth a thousand words and nowhere is this truer than in restaurant marketing.
You want people to instantly recognize your franchise just by observing the color pattern. That is why you need to create a unique visual identity and disseminate it both offline (flyers, billboards, ads in the papers) and online (your website, social media, online ads, etc.).
Speaking of an online visual identity, don’t neglect the quality of the imagery posted to your website. If this a weak spot for you, aim to learn more about brand photography and the importance of professional images in an online marketing campaign. Since these images are going to be posted on the restaurant’s social media accounts as well, they need to be high quality photographs.
What Else is on the Table?
We mentioned earlier that restaurants need to blend in into the local business surrounding while standing out from competitors. The motives behind such a move don’t necessarily have to be monetary in nature. By buying local produce, you are helping the local economy and perhaps even subsidizing subsistence and organic farmers. This is something that your guests will definitely appreciate and can be something that distinguishes your brand from your competitors.
Furthermore, you can expand the scope of what’s on the table, pun intended. Just like a full meal has several courses, so should your restaurant offer more than merely tasty food. The decor of the restaurant should be given a lot of consideration, especially if you’re aiming to attract upscale clientele. Furthermore, you should have some sort of entertainment in the form of showing live sporting events, standup comedy nights, game nights, or a live concert of a local musician. Who knows, perhaps the next Elvis Presley might have his first gig at your place, making it instantly famous. Talk about a savvy brand strategy!
The People Behind the Success Story
In order for your brand to catch on, it takes time and consistency on your part. The staff you hire to put this marketing strategy into place is going to be the literal backbone of the whole process; they will convert your business plan into happy faces.
That is why the final investment has to be in the staff working in your restaurant. From your head chef to the bussers, everyone should be treated with respect, paid fairly, and given the equal opportunity to advance.
Oh yeah, don’t forget uniforms with swag to them; guests adore it when everyone’s dressed to impress.
The ever more competitive restaurant market is forcing business owners to constantly alter their branding strategies. However, if you do your research well, there should be little cause for alarm. You should focus on creating a viable business plan that will promote your brand in all of its forms, from the way employees are dressed all the way to the design of the logo and the use of brand photography.
About the Author:
Claire Morgan is a marketing consultant and lecturer who, thanks to her integrated approach to business, stands behind many digital strategies of renowned brands. She enjoys traveling and passionately blogs about the latest marketing and lifestyle trends. You can follow her on Twitter.