Crafting a stellar restaurant brand | Twelve Three Media

How to Brand a Restaurant

12 Minute Read

In the bustling world of dining, everyone seems to have a recipe for restaurant branding. They talk a grand game, promising to sprinkle magic marketing dust on your brand. If you peel back the layers, you’ll find many have never stepped foot in the marketing and branding test kitchen. It’s one thing to wax poetic about branding; it’s another to truly craft a restaurant brand that resonates with your intended audience.

Handing over your restaurant brand to just anyone? That’s like letting a novice run the window on opening night. What you need is a marketing agency with a proven track record, one that understands branding isn’t just a side dish—it’s the main course, perfectly paired with a comprehensive marketing strategy.

That’s where Twelve Three Media comes to the table. We’re not just playing in the kitchen. We’ve curated world-class brand identities and seasoned every facet of marketing with a flavor that speaks directly to your ideal guests. Our holistic approach focuses on the big picture rather than just churning out one-size-fits-all solutions.

Ready to give your restaurant branding the gourmet treatment? The experts at Twelve Three Media are equipped to elevate your brand. Contact us to get started, or keep reading for our insider tips on crafting a standout restaurant brand.

What Is Restaurant Branding?

Restaurant branding is the art of defining and expressing the soul of your eatery, blending the tangible aspects of branding with the intangible essence of your brand. While branding involves the visuals, the ambiance, and the tone that diners directly interact with, your brand encompasses these elements and more—it’s the overarching perception and emotional connection your restaurant cultivates with its audience.

This perception is shaped by every interaction, from the flavors savored in a meal and the atmosphere in the dining room to the visuals within advertisements and the sentiments stirred by reviews or word-of-mouth. It’s the entirety of the relationship between your restaurant and diners, leading to a specific reaction at the mention of your name.

A successful restaurant branding strategy marries the sensory blueprint of your branding with the broader narrative of your brand. It distinguishes your eatery from the competition by weaving together your culinary expertise, history, and authentic testimonials from patrons, acting as the guiding light that ensures every facet of your operation resonates with what makes your restaurant uniquely appealing.

Overview of the branding process | Twelve Three Media

What Is Brand Positioning for a Restaurant?

Brand positioning for a restaurant involves the strategic process of setting your establishment apart from rivals and effectively conveying these distinctive qualities to prospective diners. It’s about crafting a clear message that highlights the value your restaurant offers its patrons, pinpointing exactly how your culinary experience diverges from others in the field.

This strategy answers the pivotal questions: WHY does your restaurant exist? WHO is your target clientele? WHAT dishes or experiences do you provide? HOW does your establishment distinguish itself from the multitude of dining options available? By addressing these inquiries, brand positioning ensures your restaurant occupies a special place in the competitive market and the hearts of your customers.

Branding: Who are you, really? | Twelve Three Media

Prep Your Ingredients

Before you walk into your first branding sesh, there are a few things you need to have prepared:

Who are you, really?

Think about it: who are you? Sure, you know yourself, but can you clearly articulate what drives you for others? What’s your story, your passion, and what keeps you motivated day in and day out? To truly stand out in the market, it’s crucial to have a deep understanding of your own identity and motivations.

Who is your clientele?

Do you know who’s walking through your doors? Identifying your clientele isn’t just about demographics—it’s understanding their preferences, dining habits, and what they seek in a dining experience. Are they local foodies, families looking for a casual meal, or professionals seeking a quick lunch?

What do you want to say to them?

What exactly do you wish to convey to your guests? It’s not just about what you serve but what you stand for. Whether it’s your commitment to local sourcing, a family-friendly atmosphere, or quick, quality lunches for busy professionals, your mission should connect with your target diners’ needs.

How do you want to communicate with them?

Now that you have an idea who your customers are going to be and what you want to say to them, it is time to decide how you will talk to them. Your brand character (witty but not cocky, funny but smart—however you choose to present yourself) should be integrated into all aspects of your marketing.

Hand writing 'What's Your Why?' in chalk | Twelve Three Media

How Do You Create a Restaurant Brand?

Now it’s time to start cooking, but rest assured, we’re not just going to give you a few clickbaity suggestions for how to brand a restaurant. We’re breaking it down into understandable steps that lead to successful restaurant branding. However, if you really want the edge, you’ll hire the marketing pros to guide you—that’s us.

You’ve Got to Start With a Good Base

There is a restaurant, bakery, cafe, or sandwich shop on every corner—do you think you can just show up? No. You need to stand out. To accomplish that, you need to take some time to marinate on your purpose and how that can connect you to your customers.

1. WHY: The Heart

Your WHY is the essence of your restaurant’s identity—your vision and core beliefs. It’s the passion and motivation that fuels your culinary journey. It’s akin to a family meal where everyone gathers, sharing not just food but values and hopes.

This foundational belief is what propels you forward and serves as your anchor during challenging times. It’s the driving force behind the dishes you serve and how you serve them.

Let your WHY resonate with your guests by connecting with their values and fulfilling their needs. When customers feel a deep connection to your restaurant’s purpose, they’re not just likely to return—they’ll spread the word.

An example of a WHY statement might be:

We aspire to craft dishes that celebrate and connect with our community, turning every meal into a cherished memory.

2. HOW Do You Do It Differently?

After defining your WHY, the next step is to articulate HOW you stand out in your execution. What sets your approach apart from the myriad of farm-to-table establishments or the sea of gastropubs? Identify and embrace your unique flavor—your restaurant’s signature that makes it unmistakably yours.

Your HOW might look something like:

We redefine the farm-to-table experience by intertwining traditional techniques with modern culinary innovation, ensuring every dish not only speaks of its origin but also tells a story of our future. Our secret spice? A relentless commitment to freshness, sustainability, community engagement, and an ever-evolving menu that surprises and delights.

3. Defining Your WHAT

The WHAT in your restaurant’s branding encapsulates the tangible benefits each guest receives from dining with you. It’s the essence of the guest experience, offering a clear summary of what diners can expect and enjoy.

Your WHAT statement may state:

Every guest is treated to a culinary journey that blends impeccable service with an unforgettable ambiance. From the moment you step inside, expect to be immersed in a dining experience where each dish is a masterpiece, crafted with care and served with a warmth that feels like home. Here, dining is not just about eating—it’s about celebrating life’s moments, big and small.

The WHY, HOW, and WHAT form the “Golden Circle,” a concept crafted by Simon Sinek to illustrate how exceptional leaders inspire action. At Twelve Three Media, we’ve tailored this blueprint to our branding services, emphasizing the power and success of marketing with a clear purpose.

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen!

4. The Competition: Who’s Crowding Your Game?

You’ve got to identify your competition! This isn’t personal—it’s business. So, don’t concern yourself with vendettas and rivalries. Establish 3–5 other restaurants that may be edging you out in search rankings, paid ads, or advertising. Or maybe there’s a neighborhood spot that’s always on a wait while you’re sitting on only a couple of two-tops.

Brand positioning is crucial; to master it, you need to pinpoint who your competitors are and what they’re cooking up. Understanding how other restaurants present themselves and their offerings is key. This comprehensive insight allows you to develop your signature, carving out a distinct identity for your restaurant and ensuring you stand out in the crowded culinary world.

5. What Is Your Secret Sauce?

We’re well aware that not all dining spots are created equal. The challenge lies in convincing the public to choose your establishment over others. It’s not just about having a flashy logo or extravagant decor. Your entire branding effort must resonate with your distinct brand identity, from your website and social media presence to the restaurant’s ambiance.

Identify your differentiator. What culinary delights or experiences can patrons only find at your table? It’s time to move beyond contemplation. Document it, proclaim it, and embody it. Pinpoint the ingredients of your brand that set you apart. What is your unique flavor in the vast sea of dining options? How do you distinguish yourself?

6. Be Rational AND Emotional

Consumer decisions are influenced by both the head and the heart. Effective restaurant branding integrates both emotional and rational benefits, ensuring your guests form a deeper connection with your brand. It’s essential to offer diners clear, tangible benefits that satisfy their practical needs while also touching their emotions, creating a memorable experience that resonates.

A rational benefit may be:

Our farm-to-table approach ensures that every dish we serve is delectable and sustainably sourced, providing you with the freshest, healthiest options.

Whereas an emotional benefit could be:

Stepping into our restaurant is like coming home. With each bite, you’re not just nourishing your body but reconnecting with cherished memories of family dinners and joyful celebrations.

By marrying these benefits, your restaurant becomes more than just a place to eat. It transforms into a destination that guests are wholeheartedly invested in, both for the quality of the food and the warmth of the experience.

7. Craft Your Brand Character

Crafting your restaurant’s brand character breathes life into your brand. Imagine your brand as a persona, perhaps drawing inspiration from a beloved fictional figure like Remy from Ratatouille or a culinary icon like Julia Child. This character should encapsulate the essence, values, and personality of your restaurant.

If this persona wouldn’t naturally “speak” your current marketing language, then it’s a clear signal to refine and realign. Your brand character isn’t just a mascot—it’s the embodiment of your restaurant. The voice and tone of this character will guide your messaging, aesthetics, and the overall guest experience. Embrace a character that authentically represents your ethos, ensuring every facet of your brand resonates with the genuine spirit of your establishment.

Professional woman inventorying marketing assets for a restaurant | Twelve Three Media

It’s Inventory Time!

Now that you know what you’re cooking up, get into cold storage and see what’s expired. What existing ingredients will hold up, and what will you need to order to bolster your restaurant brand recipe?

8. Check Your Creative Assets

It’s time to check to see if your existing creative assets align with your new brand identity or if they need to be thrown out. Your design assets are the elements that shape the perception of your brand. These include:

  • Logos & icons
  • Copywriting (taglines, menus, marketing emails, etc.)
  • Decor
  • Mailers, table tents, signage, etc.
  • Digital and traditional ads
  • Billboards & other out-of-home ads
  • Your brand style guide

These elements should convey your brand to potential guests quickly and concisely. If your current assets are looking moldy, toss them and invest in vibrant, new marketing collateral.

9. Critique Your Digital Presence

Your future direction requires a clear grasp of your past efforts. Conducting a thorough review of your online marketing and advertising activities is essential to ensure alignment with your new restaurant brand identity. Items to review include:

If these ingredients are stale, lackluster, or fail to reflect your restaurant’s flavor accurately—it’s time to re-fire your digital assets.

Let’s Get Consistent Across the Board!

Consistency is as crucial in branding as it is in the kitchen. Just as diners expect their steak tartare to be impeccably prepared with each order, they also rely on the familiarity of your brand across all touchpoints. This unwavering reliability is the cornerstone of building trust with your patrons.

Whether through your social media presence, the ambiance of your decor, the tone of your advertising, or the offerings on your menu, maintaining a consistent brand voice and image ensures that guests will always feel at home with your restaurant. This consistency is key to fostering a loyal customer base that knows and loves what you stand for.

10. Cook Up Your Key Messaging

After defining your brand’s unique stance in the culinary world, it’s critical to distill the essence of your restaurant into compelling key messaging tailored for your future patrons. These messages should be written in the distinct voice of your brand persona.

Your key messaging ought to capture:

  • The core values that drive your restaurant’s mission
  • The standout features that elevate your establishment above others
  • Both the rational and emotional benefits of dining with you
  • A persuasive call to action, tempting diners to select your restaurant for their next gastronomic adventure

By clearly articulating these elements, you set the table for a narrative that informs, entices, and connects with your audience on a deeper level.

11. Plate a Brand Style Guide

Just as the brand character serenades guests with the “voice” of your restaurant brand, the brand style paints its “face,” offering a visual feast that’s as recognizable as the aroma of your signature dish. Treating your brand style guide like your kitchen’s most cherished recipe ensures everyone, from your staff to external collaborators, is able to maintain the flavor of your brand in all areas.

Think of a brand style guide as your restaurant’s secret recipe book—it ensures everyone from the kitchen crew to external partners knows exactly how to keep your brand’s taste consistent. It keeps the essence of your brand as steady and satisfying as your signature entrée.

A brand style guide includes:

  • Logos & icons
  • Typography
  • Color palette
  • Image guidelines
  • Brand elements
12. Open Up Your New Restaurant Brand!

Now that you’ve perfected your restaurant brand, it’s time to blend it into every corner of your establishment. This means everything from uniforms to letterheads should radiate your restaurant’s essence, presenting a consistent brand that truly captures the soul of your establishment.

Round up your team—partners, marketing wizards, kitchen and floor staff, etc.—to inform them of the changes. Collaboration with your marketing agency is key to ensuring that every piece of content and every design element marries seamlessly into a cohesive brand experience.

Create a plan to roll out your new brand, and stick to it. It’s about more than just implementation—it’s about infusing your brand’s flavor into every guest interaction, from the first glance to the last goodbye.

Keep Cooking…

Congratulations, you’ve made it! But remember, the journey doesn’t end here. Your brand is now a living, breathing entity that requires nurturing and evolution. Establish clear goals and monitor your progress, ready to pivot and innovate as needed. As culinary trends shift, your business evolves, and your customers’ preferences transform, staying adaptable is key to ensuring your restaurant’s enduring success.

Read More: 12 Marketing Strategies to Attract Customers to Your Restaurant

A golden rule for staying ahead is to focus on those you serve—your guests. Understand their desires, motivations, and perceptions of your brand. Engage with them, solicit their feedback, and listen. Their insights are the most valuable ingredients for continuous improvement and staying relevant in a dynamic and competitive market.

Group of friends happily eating together at a trendy restaurant | Twelve Three Media

Why Is Branding Important in Restaurants?

In the bustling culinary scene, where eateries vie for attention, standing out is not just beneficial—it’s vital to your success. Sure, serving delectable dishes and providing stellar service is fundamental, but your restaurant might as well be invisible without a distinctive brand. Branding breathes life into your establishment, crafting an identity that captures and retains customer attention.

A robust brand doesn’t just attract customers, it converts them into devoted fans and vocal champions of your restaurant. Despite the endless dining choices available today, brand allegiance remains strong.

Effective branding mirrors your restaurant’s soul and desired perception, permeating every facet of your operation—from marketing strategies to service and beyond. Every touchpoint with your brand should echo its unique essence.

Why Dine On Mediocre When You Can Feast on the Finest?

Embarking on a journey with mediocre marketing is like settling for a bland appetizer when you could be indulging in a gourmet feast. Elevate your restaurant’s brand with the experts at Twelve Three Media.

A vibrant and accessible online presence isn’t just an advantage—it’s essential for survival. Let us craft a brand for your restaurant that draws guests in and keeps them coming back for seconds, thirds, and more. After all, in the banquet of business, those with the most memorable brands fill their tables night after night.

Ready to savor your success? Twelve Three Media is your secret ingredient. Contact us today, and let the feast begin.

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