chef updating the chalk menu display outside of a commercial restaurant

Cleaning Up Your Brand on the Interior and Exterior

From improving menu items to choosing the best dish sponge to keeping your commercial kitchen sparkling clean, you are a master of restaurant operations. But when was the last time you looked at your brand?

Customers and prospective diners judge your commercial restaurant from the inside and outside based on a variety of factors. And sending the wrong messages could hurt business.

“The core elements 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.

Define your 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 told 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,” he says.

An effective way to begin analyzing the promise is the “magic triangle,” Joachimsthaler says. The magic triangle consists of three Cs: customer, competitor and company. It includes asking yourself:

  • 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 your establishment apart in the market and should be projected in everything from your menu and décor to your external outreach.

Soak in feedback like a sponge.

Ask customers, vendors and contacts about what your restaurant’s brand represents to them. Consider whether their feedback matches your brand promise. If not, it’s time to take a scrub pad to your brand and clean it up.

Create a consistent commercial kitchen brand.

Branding is more than just a logo. The core elements of your brand include competitive analysis, brand differentiation, and unique traits. These must be reinforced throughout your business, such as on the menu and in communications, visuals, promotions. Your brand is even reflected in how you maintain your restaurant, such as how you conduct restaurant cleaning.

Reinforce the message.

Lighting, color, and ambiance are critical to communicating both the brand and the location, Moore says. Don’t feel like you need to be “cookie-cutter”—but it does need to feel familiar and current. “Not having the latest logo or a distressed exterior that is not in line with the global direction of the brand creates dissonance and undermines the very essence of what it means to be a brand, in that you expect the same thing where ever you go; in a good way! It's the comfort of that expectation and delivery against it, that draws people to restaurant brands: they know what to expect,” she adds.

Focus on clear brand communication.

Make sure your brand “look” and messaging are consistent in your promotion and outreach. People should be able to recognize your business whether they see the exterior or they land on your restaurant’s Instagram page. Moore says it’s important to promote your brand across various platforms as your restaurant’s resources allow.

Establishing a brand takes time and may be subject to challenges. “Smaller brands don't necessarily have those, and larger brands get stuck with bureaucracy, so the important factor is to be out there and be consistent and communicate regularly,” she says. “To not do it at all is a misstep.”


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