Utilizing your positioning, you can create your branding foundation, which includes messaging and a visual branding strategy. Developing brand assets, such as your logo and menu item photos, helps tie your restaurant experience together.
Once you know your positioning in the local market, it’s time to establish your messaging guidelines. Your messaging should focus on one thing: what makes your restaurant different from the others in the area. Not only does this make your messaging simple, but it focuses your messages on what your customers need to hear about your restaurant.
First, narrow your audience into segments, as narrow as possible. Then, determine what those audience segments need. Some needs may overlap based on your restaurant, but there will likely be differences.
Based on these needs, similar and different, determine the best practices for promoting your positioning to each audience segment and how you should communicate with your audience overall. This will depend on your audience, your positioning, and how your restaurant wants to sound. If you need ideas, look up “tone of voice adjectives.” From there, use those adjectives to develop your content tone and style. Provide your team with the do’s and don’ts for your messaging guidelines accordingly. These guidelines will help all content sound on-brand, no matter which team member is creating them.
Remember: Avoid using industry jargon in your messaging. Your audience likely doesn’t understand or want to learn your industry’s jargon, so use simple, easy to understand language for all content. However, your audience likely does want to learn about your dishes if you serve a cuisine that is unique to the area (e.g. authentic Thai restaurant in a town with very few residents from Taiwan or other Asian states and territories.)
Conveying brand personality is also important to position your restaurant appropriately in your local area. Competition is often ruthless when it comes to local businesses, including restaurants. To set your brand apart from your competitors, conveying your brand personality and values in your messaging is key. These pieces will help your prospects and customers remember you.
Visual Branding Strategy
Creating a cohesive visual brand for restaurants is all about creating a design that matches your positioning and audience. By developing a visual branding strategy, you can develop visual branding pieces that are cohesive and in-line with your vision. This strategy will affect your logo, website, menu, and interior design.
Your business’s visual branding assets include a logo, color palette, fonts, and brand imagery. All of these pieces say something specific about your restaurant, represent your menu, and showcase the visual tone of your restaurant. While they are not more important than providing quality food, beverages, and customer service, your customers will eventually see your logo as your brand, so it needs to accurately represent your business.
For the brand imagery, think about what kind of aesthetic or visual style you want your brand to portray online and through your interior design. What filter showcases your brand in the best light? For example, a fine dining restaurant in New York City will have a very different look and feel than a coffeehouse in a small town.
Food and beverage photos are the most important part of your visual branding strategy as a restaurant because your customers eat with their eyes before they choose to go to your restaurant, look at your menu, and order. This is especially important for restaurants serving food from a different culture or cuisine than the local area is accustomed to as your customers may not know what to expect. Within your visual branding strategy, it’s important to include guidelines on how to take food and beverage photos, which should be utilized by your team or a food photographer.
If your business can afford it, we recommend getting a professional food photographer and food stylist for your food and beverage photography. If hiring a food photographer and food stylist is out of your budget, learn all you can about food styling, use natural lighting, and take a bunch of photos at all different angles.
We recommend that restaurants spend the most time and money on your menu (development, design, website HTML format, etc.). Then, food and beverage photography is your second priority, so allocate the necessary time and assets to this process, too. These photos are utilized in all of your marketing efforts, including creating your menu, so the presentation of your menu items in these photos will determine whether they succeed at enticing prospects. These photos show your prospects and customers your style, plating, portions, and more. It’s critical to not only have beautiful plating when they dine in, but it’s just as critical to show them what to expect while they look at your menu online.
Tip: Make a note in your visual branding guidelines to get food and beverage shots from multiple angles, specifically aerial and close-ups. Having different angles to choose from when designing your website and menu, as well as having them to use for other content efforts, will be very beneficial.
Visual Branding Development
Whether you use a food photographer and stylist or have members of your team perform those duties in-house, it’s best to streamline your photography processes to efficiently create and collect your photography assets. To do so, you should plan to shoot multiple (if not all) of your featured menu items in one day. First, you will need to prepare for the photoshoot, including gathering freshly prepared dishes, a camera, and any background pieces or models, as well as creating a list or spreadsheet of all of the dishes, angles, and background or model combinations. For more details on how to prepare for a food photoshoot, visit this link and this link.
Tip: Plan your photoshoot well in advance so you can ensure that you will get all of the photos you will need for your marketing and sales efforts for a while. Gathering these assets in a day or two (plus editing) is much easier than taking a new photo every time you need one. Then, be sure to share the edited assets with your team so they will use the right photos for all of their projects. This ensures a consistent look to your dishes in all marketing and sales pieces.
Other visual assets you will need include a logo, color palette, fonts, and types of images. Remember to consider how each piece will look online and in print, or what pieces are specifically designed for online or print.
Once you have your messaging guidelines set, and your photography and branding assets created, you may want to determine what pieces of collateral need to be updated, including website pages, menus, business listings, social media page details, and more. Then create a plan to update a page or a piece at least monthly, if not weekly, until all pieces are updated.
Tip: We recommend creating your printed, in-house menu with the considerations listed for your online menu.
Our team works as a fluid extension of each of our member’s businesses by developing strategies and executing projects in whatever capacity is best for their unique needs.