Customers and prospective diners judge commercial restaurants from the inside and outside based on a variety of factors. If a commercial restaurant sends the wrong message to diners, it can easily hurt business.
“The core elements of a strong brand message are a clear understanding of the competition, how to differentiate the brand and what are the key tenets and personality of the brand that no one else can claim,” says Jennifer Moore, director of marketing for Elite Restaurant Group, the parent company of restaurant concepts Slater’s 50/50, Daphne’s and Patxi’s Pizza.
Defining a Commercial Kitchen’s Brand Promise
“The first step to doing a brand clean-up is to define what you want your brand to represent to customers,” Erich Joachimsthaler, CEO and founder of Vivaldi Partners Group, a New York City global brand strategy consulting firm, explained to 3M Brand You, an online destination for branding information. “A brand promise is the set of functional, emotional, and self-expressive benefits that a brand delivers to the customer or consumer.”
“A brand promise is the set of functional, emotional, and self-expressive benefits that a brand delivers to the customer or consumer.”
Joachimsthaler elaborated that an effective way to begin analyzing the brand promise is through the “magic triangle.” The magic triangle consists of three C’s: customer, competitor and company. It requires the person in charge of brand management to ask themselves:
- What do I deliver to the customer?
- What do I deliver that the competitor does not deliver?
- What can I deliver uniquely to the consumer?
The answers are at the core of what sets an establishment apart in the market and should be projected in everything from the menu and décor to the external outreach.
Absorb Feedback Like a Sponge
It is essential to ask customers, vendors and contacts about what the restaurant’s brand represents to them. The person managing the brand should consider whether the feedback received from people aligns with the intention of the brand promise. If not, it’s time to take a scrub pad to the brand and clean it up.
Create a Consistent Commercial Kitchen Brand
Branding is more than just a logo. The core elements of a brand include competitive analysis, brand differentiation, and unique traits. These must be reinforced throughout a business, such as on the menu and in communications, visuals, and promotions. The brand is even reflected in how the restaurant is maintained, such as through its cleanliness and even how its cleaning is conducted, e.g., sustainable or allergen-free cleaning methods.
Reinforce the Message
Lighting, color, and ambiance are critical to communicating both the brand and the location, Jennifer Moore explains. These elements don’t need to be “cookie-cutter” or generic—but they do need to feel familiar and current.
“Not displaying the latest logo or including the distressed exterior that is in line with the global direction of a brand at a location can create dissonance and undermines the very essence of what it means to be a brand. When people go to a restaurant with a familiar brand, they are going there because they expect the same thing wherever they go. It’s the comfort of that expectation and delivery of it that draws people to restaurant brands,” she adds.
Focus on Clear and Consistent Brand Communication
A restaurant’s brand “look” and messaging should be consistent in all promotion and outreach, whether on social media or at the location itself. People should be able to recognize a business whether they see the exterior or they land on a restaurant’s Instagram page. Moore elaborates that it’s important to promote a brand across various platforms to the extent that a restaurant’s resources allow.
A restaurant’s brand “look” and messaging should be consistent in all promotion and outreach, whether on social media or at the location itself.
Establishing a brand also takes time and may be subject to different challenges depending on the scale of the company. “Smaller brands may not have had as much time to deliver its brand messaging, while larger brands may get stuck with bureaucracy in their attempts to clearly communicate that promise, so the important factor is to be out there, be consistent and communicate regularly,” she says. “To not do it at all is a misstep.”
By Carolina Bautista-Brown, Market Development Manager for 3M Commercial Solutions Foodservice and Supplies