When you hear the word brand, what do you think of?
Maybe BMW or Google comes to mind. Others may envision Wal-Mart or Coca-Cola. People all over the world would recognize these brands after just a glimpse and immediately associate it with past experiences. For BMW many people think of luxury and fine automobiles; while for Wal-Mart discounts and enormous retail stores comes to mind.
A brand is a promise. It’s a consistent message to the consumer about what the company does, how they do it and why they do it. This message should be so clear and obvious to the public that just seeing a logo or a sign will immediately provoke specific thoughts and emotions connected with the company.
Branding is a very important step along the path to success for any business. No business is too small for branding. Creating a unique and consistent experience for customers every time they visit the business will keep your loyal customers coming back and also attract new customers. A brand provides a sense of security to consumers; it’s comforting to know what you will get from a business every time, no matter what.
Branding is especially important for restaurants. A strong restaurant brand can build a loyal customer base that a company can rely on. One of the best examples of a strong restaurant brand is Chipotle. Chipotle has built a brand that stands for organic, quality ingredients. This is clear every step of the way. The name Chipotle refers to a jalapeno pepper, the company’s tagline is food with integrity, the ingredients are in clear view for diners and even the bag is covered in text about the quality ingredients. Chipotle has many devoted customers and some of them can absolutely be attributed to the strength of the restaurant’s brand.
Establishing a strong brand is a process and takes time to be successfully completed. Before any branding can begin the company needs to set a clear message from which the brand will be based. Remember this message is a promise to customers about what to expect when dealing with the company at any point in the future. Once this message is clear, branding can begin. A company’s brand should be evident during every aspect of a customers experience with that company.
In most situations a business’ name is the first piece of branding a customer is exposed to. The business name in most cases will become the most recognizable piece of the branding strategy. The name needs to logically correspond with the desired brand.
A logo is another extremely visible part of your branding campaign. This design should be symbolic of the company’s overall message or theme that has inspired the brand. The keys to having a great logo are consistency and awareness. This decal should be easily recognizable by customers so that just catching a glimpse of it will remind them of your business.
It is important to pick the appropriate color combination for your brand to help set the mood and feeling that customers experience during every visit. Different colors have different effects on people. For instance, many restaurant chains utilize warm colors (red, orange, yellow) because they are known to stimulate hunger. Choosing a color scheme gives you the opportunity to influence what customers will feel when walking through your restaurant’s door.
Uniforms add to the customer experience and a brand’s consistent presentation in two ways. First, uniforms add to the brand’s presentation simply because all of the employees are dressed in company designed clothing that complement the restaurant’s atmosphere. A dress code also positively impacts workers’ attitudes. Marilyn Schlossbach , principal partner of Kitschens Hospitality Group, says, “Being in uniform puts you in a frame of mind of being at work and getting into the role for your theater production.” The theater production is employees playing their role and doing their part in the effort of presenting the brand in a positive fashion.
A good slogan is something a company can hang their hat on. This is a brief message that sums up the company’s mission in a few words. A good tagline must be original and creatively specific to the company. Some good examples of successful slogans are:
• Nike-Just Do It.
• Wendy’s-Where’s the beef?
• M&M Candies-Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.
The final and most important element is customer experience. This includes the way the food is cooked, how customers are greeted at the entrance, average time they have to wait and every other experience they have while at the restaurant. This experience needs to be consistent every time the customer is in the restaurant. This will make customers more comfortable visiting your restaurant because they know what to expect each time they come in.
A superior branding strategy has to be unique and consistent. Straying away from the overall theme or message at any point in the process can result in a weaker brand. Maintaining a strong cohesive brand throughout all company media elements will give your restaurant an advantage and set it apart from the competition.