As restaurants around the world rebound from quarantine closures, they’re actually in an extremely favorable position for a brand refresh. Here’s why: people are hungry (pun intended) to get out and experience the world again, and food is almost always at the center of our gatherings. Keep reading to learn how to make sure your restaurant brand is included!
How do brands go from a fan favorite to a cult following? They express themselves and share their personalities! Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing (although the how and the why can be insightful) and instead focus on what makes your brand unique. When you’re ready to share that with the world, a beautiful brand is step one, but the real results come from building ongoing moments of delight into every interaction. The strongest foundation for any brand is authenticity. Take it from Wendy’s on Twitter, where they’ve mastered a tone that is both rude and loveable at the same time. They are who they are, and the audience loves it.
What takes someone from enjoying a product to telling anyone who will listen why they love it so much? Two words: Emotional Buy-In. It’s all about building deeper connections. To reach your audience, you have to consider their interests outside of your brand. Only then can you determine where your brand can fit in. At BatesMeron, we identify specific personas to help visualize the entire character of an ideal target. Once there’s a clear picture of who the target is, you can fit your brand into the grander puzzle.
Building brand personality into every touchpoint creates opportunities for organic (ahem, FREE) word of mouth, content and referral marketing. When giveaway t-shirts become wardrobe staples, they turn your audience into mobile billboards. When packaged products become truly unbox-worthy, they create positive experiences that people want to share without being asked.
When Pita Inn launched their cult-favorite hot sauce, we not only designed the label (featuring two words every designer wants to hear: gold foil) but also created a gift box to celebrate the occasion. Each element of the design was focused on the end-user, from the hunger-inducing color palette to the cheeky language tucked around every corner. Joyful yellow Spring-Fill crinkle paper bursts from the seams to create a thoughtful package that recipients can revel in from the moment it arrives.
Thanks to the pandemic, QR codes are here to stay. From fast food to fine dining, restaurants everywhere are turning to QR codes for their menus. Even though I’ll still be asking for printed menus whenever possible (letterpress preferred, please!), digital menus are an important option to provide.
Virtual menus were adopted for cleanliness, but they’re also easier to update on the fly for seasonal specials and sold-out items and they take on the settings of the reader’s phone to make sure that text is legible for everyone. Plus, you have near-endless space to showcase your food photography (don’t worry, that’s up next). Just don’t forget that QR codes should be as beautifully branded as the menus they link to. West Egg Cafe set the bar pretty high with their service alert menu, which can be flipped to the green side to alert servers that they are needed.
As branding experts, we love tapping into the little psychological details that reach audiences on a deeper level. One thing that makes the restaurant world particularly unique is the fact that appetite is at the center of everything. It starts with color: seeing red actually stimulates the metabolism and makes people hungrier, where bright green brings up associations like fresh and healthy. The pinnacle is food photography. It has to be hunger-inducing, mouth-watering and borderline edible.
The latest trend? Using hard light to punch up colors that make plates truly sing on-screen. Check out this post from food photographer Nicole Hansen to see the difference between hard and soft light. Both options are great, but they set very different tones for the brand personality.
If there’s one item to take away from this article, it’s this: it takes more than one viral moment to make a brand. Every single interaction has to build on the one before it to create a cohesive branded experience. Before asking your design team to launch into one of these trends, consider how it fits with your existing brand and be prepared to carry it through to the finish line.
When the time comes to elevate your restaurant brand, you’ll need a few extra hands to help reach your goals strategically. That’s what we’re here for! Contact the food-obsessed BatesMeron team today to start your next branded project.