restaurant branding ideas
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

One of the most effective ways to build customer loyalty is to create a recognizable and memorable restaurant brand. To have that “je ne sais quoi” that keeps customers coming back and motivates them to recommend your restaurant, develop a timeless restaurant brand identity that resonates with your target audience. The restaurant branding ideas below will help you get started.

15 Best Restaurant Branding Ideas to Implement Right Now

1. Start with a strong mission statement

The first step in developing a restaurant branding strategy is crafting a mission statement that will act as your guiding compass from now on. To do that, you have to answer some questions:

  • What do we do?
  • Why do we do it?
  • How do we do it?
  • What do we hope to accomplish?
  • What is our USP (unique selling point)?

After you’ve answered all these questions, keep them in your eyesight at all times. Reread them whenever you advance your brand identity to ensure you’re staying true to who you are.

Related: Restaurant Opening Checklist: How to Start a Profitable Restaurant

2. Define your target audience

A natural step following the mission statement is establishing who your customers will be. This depends on factors like location, menu, design, and ambiance.

If your restaurant is located next to a university campus and your serve affordable food and drinks, it’s clear most of your customers will be university students. Alternatively, suppose you’ve opened your restaurant in a wealthier neighborhood next to corporate office buildings. In that case, you might become the go-to place for classy business lunches.

Defining your target audience will help you learn how to communicate with your customers. It will also reveal important insight into improving your customer service and avoiding negative reviews.

3. Work on brand positioning

Brand positioning refers to the act of positioning your restaurant in your customer’s mind. More precisely, it’s about the strategy you use to differentiate your brand. It sets your brand in relation to other similar ones (in this case, other restaurants) in the minds of your target audience.

Your positioning in the restaurant market should be based on the menu you’re offering, the price, your restaurant location, as well as how you promote your business. Determine who your competitors are and what your strengths and weaknesses are compared to theirs.

4. Decide how you want to present your restaurant to the world

Beyond things like menu prices and location stands a restaurant’s brand voice, i.e., what kind of restaurant you will be in relation to your customers. Will you be fun and quirky or serious and elegant? Based on the traits you choose, you will learn how to interact with your target audience. Ultimately, these restaurant branding ideas will also seep into your physical branding.

5. Customize the look of your restaurant

From logo to packaging, decor, colors, lettering, signage, and much more, your restaurant’s look should form a cohesive whole with your mission statement and brand voice. If you want to open a funky bistro, you will probably go for bold colors and fonts. At the same time, a classy restaurant will benefit more from dark, muted colors and typography.

Related: 15 Restaurant Design Tips That Will Attract More Customers

If you also offer food pickup and delivery, put some time and effort into designing the packaging and printed materials. They should include your logo, brand colors, stickers with your social media profiles, the website where people can place orders, and your contact information.

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If your restaurant has a specific theme or simply caters to a young, fun audience, you can bring some of that magic into your menu. Integrate puns into menu descriptions, come up with unique names for menu items, and design your menu to reflect your restaurant’s theme.

For example, a Game of Thrones-themed restaurant could serve menu items such as Mother of Dragons spicy wings, Winterfell winter greens, or Red Wedding cake. A personalized name can be enough to excite your guests and have them coming back for more.

7. Keep your branding consistent

Consistency is one of the most critical aspects of successful restaurant branding. You have to give off the same vibe both online and offline. Your website colors should match those of your brick-and-mortar location, and your social media has to contain the same imprint. Additionally, if you’re considering advertising, keep it on par with your branding.

The same thing goes for offline marketing. Any material you print, from flyers to posters or business cards, has to feature your brand. If you don’t want to give your wait staff proper uniforms, you can still ask them to wear t-shirts in the brand’s colors or personalized t-shirts that you make featuring your logo.

8. Come up with a catchy slogan

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “Eat Fresh”? What about “I’m Lovin’ It” or “Finger Lickin’ Good”? It’s unlikely you haven’t answered with Subway, McDonald’s, and KFC. That’s because these slogans have become part of popular culture.

While this is not mandatory for a restaurant’s success, it is a valuable addition to any restaurant branding ideas list. Some of the most successful restaurant chains out there have recognizable slogans. If you can come up with one for your restaurant, it’s more likely that it will stick in people’s heads and be associated with your brand forever.

9. Become active in the community

One of the most creative branding ideas for restaurants involves going out into the community and getting involved in different activities. For instance, you could cater sporting events or donate food for charity events. Partner up with other local businesses for mutual promotion and become an unforgettable presence in the community.

10. Offer promotions that align with your brand identity

The customer experience at your restaurant wouldn’t be complete without some unique restaurant promotion ideas that speak of your brand. What do I mean by that? Well, if you’re a regular hang-out spot for after-work drinks, happy hour promotions are a no-brainer.

If you’re a family-friendly restaurant, consider meal bundles and discounted kid menus. Take what makes you one of a kind and capitalize on it by giving customers what they crave most: discounts and special offers.

11. Take representative food photos

Whether on your website or social media, never underestimate the power of images to make a lasting impression on customers. When it comes to restaurant branding material, photos of your food need to leave customers craving the dish.

When photographing your food (which I recommend you do instead of using stock images), try to stick to the same style and color palette to create a cohesive vision for your brand.

12. Respond to reviews in the same style

Inevitably, customers will review your restaurant on a variety of online platforms like Yelp or TripAdvisor. The way you respond to reviews, particularly negative ones, will set the tone for your relationship with your customers both online and offline.

That said, it’s not a great idea to let different people from your staff reply to reviews because each one will have their unique style. Ideally, task one person with responding to all reviews in a way that best represents your restaurant brand.

Related: How to Respond to Negative Restaurant Reviews to Increase Brand Loyalty

Conclusion

Given the number and variety of restaurants nowadays, restaurant branding is necessary to stand out in the crowd. Don’t make the mistake of assuming only big restaurant chains need or can benefit from branding.

Small restaurants should also invest time and effort into building a brand that stands the test of time. Using the restaurant branding ideas above, you too can start creating a memorable presence for your restaurant.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She delivers business-optimized content to help restaurants boost sales and grow their brand.