Before you consider rebranding your restaurant, it would be wise to fully re-evaluate your existing brand, your business strategy and current brand offering. Doing your homework first before you start rebranding is always a wise move to make sure that your future brand is a true reflection of who you are, what you offer and has the ability to fully differentiate you from your competitors. Pero Trivunovic, group partner & brand director at I-AM, an independently owned, international brand experience consultancy, explains.

If you have the resources and the time it would really help your cause to study customer data to fully understand your target audience as well as your future business needs. This will really help you to establish a new focused and effective brand strategy for your future offer and services that can both excite and fulfil all your target customer’s needs. Only then should you start thinking about developing a plan to re-work the look and feel of your new brand language and how far you should go. It will help to inform what you should keep and what needs re-working.

Your second priority should be to gain a full understanding of exactly what a brand is and what a brand is not. This is very important as branding has changed over the years to mean something very different today compared to times past. You should be aware that a brand is not just a logo, a visual identity, a slogan or a short-term marketing campaign. Your new brand should come to represent the emotional response your future business will evoke in customers that might choose to buy into what you have to offer. Branding today utilises both sides of the brain, left and right. In other words – branding is part rational, part emotional.

The rational part of your brand should demonstrate competence in what you do, show business understanding and help you to build trust with your audience. The all-important emotive side of your brand should exist to create strong engagement with your audience, generate brand desire and help to develop strong connections with your customers.

The most successful restaurant brands know how to differentiate themselves from their competitors, they tell the most engaging brand stories and have the ability to inspire customers into becoming true advocates. Always remember that your new brand should project who you are, alert customers as to what you do, demonstrate how you do it and clearly show the direction in which you are taking the business. Also, important to remember – a brand is not a strategy, a brand should capture who you truly are and have the ability to tell your story to the outside world.

Before you start always remember…..

Get to know your competitors

List all the restaurant choices available in your local marketplace. Include all the alternative food offerings from fast casual to more refined ‘fine dining’ choices also available to your target customers. Get to know they lay of the land before you do anything.

During the COVID-19 crisis, which of the following do you feel is the best option to help maintain operator revenues as far as possible?

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Know your target audience

Describe the types of customers you would like to attract to your restaurant in the future. Define specific target groups in terms of demographic as well as socio-economic terms. Think about their different attitudes, behaviours and life needs. Try to understand what makes them tick and gets them excited.

Gather data and customer insight

Insight can best be described as seeing ‘inside your target customers’. Understand how and why your new offering will meet the specific needs of your target customers. Are there any little secrets that you might know that will give you a head start?

Define your brand vision

Sometimes described as ‘a picture of your brand, or your company in the future’
Try to describe the driving force behind your new brand direction and how and where you imagine your brand to be in the future. Set yourself a target that will drive everything you do in the future.

Document your brand mission

Describe the fundamental purpose of your brand offer and what your new brand sets out to do. Then try to summarise what your business will do to achieve its vision and fulfil its brand and business goals. Think in terms of incremental achievable steps. Have a plan and stick to it.

Think about your brand values

Try to represent your point of view through your brand language. Try to describe in words what your brand stands for and believes in. Consumers like to associate themselves with brands that have a similar mind set and similar beliefs. People like brands that stand for something and reflect the lifestyles they choose to lead.

Establish your brand benefits

Brand benefits are both functional and emotional, appealing to both sides of the human brain. Brand benefits are the functional and emotive reasons why your target customer will choose your brand over those of your competitors.

Document your reasons to believe

Quite simply the proof you give to convince consumers why your brand/restaurant is the best choice for them. From Michelin stars to personality chefs to unique dishes. Customers will look for all the things that make you special. Give them plenty of reasons to believe in your brand.

Define your brand personality

Your personality is the true character of your brand and the impression you give to the outside world. Think about how best your brand should behave and communicate your story and benefits at every customer touch point.

Think about how your brand should look and feel

Describe how you want your future brand to look and feel when viewed through your customers eyes. Describe how your brand and visual identity will look at a single glance. Consider both your environment as well as your name, brand language and your visual identity. Make sure you stand out from the crowd.

Develop a tone of voice unique to you

Think about the language your brand will need to use when talking and communicating to the outside world. Decide on the expression and tonality needed to connect with your target audience. Tell the world who you are and what you stand for.

Capture your brand essence

Try to capture your brand positioning into one clear, defining thought that all your audiences will understand and appreciate. Try to describe your brand essence in a single sentence or in as few words as possible. Place great importance in capturing what your restaurant/brand stands for and is truly all about. Keep it simple and easy to understand.

Once you have done all your homework and feel confident you have defined a position in the market you can own and best represents you going forwards you can then begin the creative process of expressing your brand through a new visual identity, language and even a new name if you so decide. Good Luck!