5 Restaurant Branding Tips That Don’t Suck

“These days people want to learn, before they buy, be educated instead of pitched.” – Brian Clark (@brianclark)

Brands are like people. They have unique personalities too. Each one carries a different essence, speaks in a different tone and carry themselves in the way they perceive would most appeal to their customers.

In a highly dynamic and saturated environment such as the restaurant industry, it takes more than a prominent signage to attract the new age customer. With the prevalence of technology, creative food images are the new standard to lure new customers to visit your restaurant.

Is there any hope left for the non-tech-savvy restaurateurs?

The bad news is, restaurants today must leverage technology to continue appealing to new age customers. The good news, however, when done right, the efforts are lucrative. Alas, there is hope! Keep in mind these 5 restaurant branding tips, to get in front of your customers.

1. Stay unexpected

It’s the age-old dilemma in your restaurant branding strategy. Do you keep it safe, or be loud and get noticed? There is a difference in being authentic and staying predictable. Cut through the noise. Don’t be afraid to be maverick and challenge what’s already been done out there.
Here’s a perfect example: Well-known Turkish chef,  Nurset Gokce (@nusr_et), is the Internet’s latest sensation! He has earned the affectionate nickname, “Salt Bae”, with brands catching on to the hashtag, #saltbae. It’s not about what he’s doing, but the way he’s doing it that’s taking the Internet by storm. Watch and learn.

2. Be social

Use Instagram and Pinterest extensively to promote your brand on social media. These platforms work like a visual gallery to your brand. If you could paint your brand in pictures, what would they look like? Create a unique Instagram hashtag that only your brand owns. Don’t be quick to rule out Facebook or LinkedIn. If your customers are active on these platforms, so should you! And if you’re not sure, it doesn’t hurt to ask your customers.

Orchestrate your personality with tickling and enticing visuals. Show off as much as you can! Engage with your customers in a light-hearted and playful (read: social) manner.

See  how Wendy’s does it. Classy.

Wendy’s recent heated Twitter exchange with a customer was sparked by this post.

The burger joint was quick to retort with a witty reply!

3. Shower your love on loyal customers

The race for long-term loyal customers is on. New customers are important to your sales, but returning customers are the bread and butter of your income. A general rule of thumb is that loyal customers should feel special. They must be recognized and treated differently. Develop a loyalty program and promote it well to your new customers. Set a monthly target of turning a fixed percentage of new customers to loyal ones. Work religiously to make your loyalty programme successful. Don’t forget to leverage on available technology in the market to simplify the process.

4. Engage directly with your customers through email

With enough valuable customer information on your hands, you can use email marketing extensively to communicate personally with your customers! Knowing their purchase history and preferences will allow you to inform your customers of exclusive offers, group invitations as well as what’s hip and happening around your local neighbourhood. These will keep your customers engaged and encourage a higher brand recall.

If you’d like to learn more on how email marketing can be used to increase more sales, view this related article: Your Customers Are Probably Slipping Away If You Haven’t Done This

5. Stay open to experiential marketing

Beyond just selling food, a restaurant is all about providing a great experience to customers.

Experiential marketing tactics are aimed at breaking the barrier between a brand and its consumers, through events that immerse the consumers in a fun and memorable experience. Some call it a PR stunt. But if an event organised by a brand can create that much positive experience associated with it, the impact is much more lucrative than simply posting content on Facebook or other social media platforms. Use experiential marketing tactics such as street promotions, guerrilla marketing to get the attention of customers in a fun way. The theme of all such events must, of course, be aligned with your vision and overall marketing strategy.

Here’s what Mountain Dew did when they engaged 15 brand ambassadors to drive around the UK.

When it comes to nailing your restaurant’s brand, never be afraid to change up the rules of marketing. Remember that brands are like people. They have unique personalities too.

Sign up for free business lessons, straight to your inbox