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How to Build Your Restaurant's Brand

Developing a strong brand presence both online and in person is vital for any food and hospitality businesses.


Developing a strong brand presence both online and in person is vital for any food and hospitality businesses. Now more than ever, it is important that restaurants create their own content for the web, cultivating compelling Instagram feeds, and most importantly, communicating their brand character and unique voice throughout the process. Brands and branding have evolved over time, moving from:

  1. Brand as object.

  2. Brand as idea.

  3. Brand as experience.

  4. Brand as relationship.

While these categorize the evolution of branding over time, it is also categorizes the steps a brand should should take when developing a brand identity.

1. Brand as object.

At its simplest, branding consists of a company, a logo or mark, and a product. In other words, when you see a particular mark, you will think of that particular company - like golden arches and McDonald’s. To achieve a level of branding like this,  you must first identify what your brand is and how it is perceived. Ask yourself questions like, “What do we want people to associate our brand with?” and “How do we want our customers to think of us?”  - once you have your answers, you can begin defining a logo or visual representation of your brand that will be integrated into your restaurant.

While your audience or goals may not be the same as those of McDonald’s, it is important that you create a visual identity that clearly sets you apart and communicates what you offer to your customers.

2. Brand as idea.

It is important that a brand exists beyond an abstract name and logo in people’s minds. One way we suggest bridging this gap is to humanize your restaurant by sharing your “founder’s story.” For instance, in our work with Masseria, an Italian fine dining restaurant in D.C., we incorporate story and inspiration throughout the website we created, and throughout the branded materials we’ve designed.

A founder’s story tells your customers about the inspiration, the passion, and often, the struggle that comes from owning starting a restaurant or business. Sharing the inspiration behind your restaurant will help customers understand your values.

3. Brand as experience

The idea of a brand as an experience translates to customers’ interactions with brands building deeper connections, leading to sales. For the hospitality and restaurant industry, this means incorporating your brand into the entire experience - from the brick-and-mortar location to your interactions online. When designing your restaurant, each choice from location to lighting, was made in a deliberate effort to create a unique experience for your guests - now you need to apply this strategy to the hashtags you use and the pictures you share.

According, to the National Restaurant Association, 34% of consumers use social media when choosing a restaurant. That means that the content you're sharing and the content other guests are sharing is potentially impacting ⅓ of your clientele.  To make it easier for people to interact with your brand on social media, implement branded hashtags and create a location for your business on Instagram.

4. Brand as relationship

As more and more brands have adopted the experience approach, it has become clear that a one-off moment in time is not enough to cement brand loyalty - as a brand, you need to help make your story the story of your guests. Whether that is getting people to express themselves through your brand, like by carrying your coffee cups or reusable shopping bags, by becoming a part of a customer’s routine, business can create long-term customer experience cycles of engagement and action. And by using a multi-channel strategy, businesses can nurture their relationship with clients even without visits to a brick-and-mortar location.

Ultimately, branding comes down to providing customers with a consistent, quality messaging about your business. If you’re looking for the best strategy to implement our branding advice, get in touch with us today so we can help you build stronger brand relationships with your customers.