Restaurant Marketing 101. What is Your Brand Saying About You?

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Jan 19, 2009 12:25:00 PM

This article challenges the restaurant owner to answer the critical question, "What is Your Marketing Saying about You?"  As a professional, you routinely clean and polish your restaurant space to make sure you're putting your best face forward whether you;re putting your business on the market or trying to grow existing sales.  Ask yourself these other critical questions.

I.  Do you have a clear and identifiable brand?  

How do you stand out from others in the industry?  What does your name say about you?  Are you asking an uninformed customer to figure out what business you are in?  Hand your card to a half dozen members of an informal focus group – and ask them if they can figure out what you do from your card.  Don’t assume the uninformed customer has ever seen or recognizes your logo.  Consider adding an understandable tagline like “the burrito leaders” to your marketing.  Once you begin using the tagline, you must consistently use it in every marketing campaign.   

II. What’s the first impression of your business? 

Pull a business card from your pocket and look at it as if you are seeing it for the first time.   How are you using graphics or color to instantly convey the impression of your restaurant?  How many colors are you using?  What is the print quality?  Does the paper weight convey a rich substantial image? Is it glossy finish or flat?  How large or small is the type?  How many ways can someone contact you?  How long have you been using it?   

Today’s society is an intensely visual one, driven by the Internet’s graphic heavy environment.  This customer is trained to take one look and click away if the message isn’t compelling enough.  That means the use of color, graphics and more are required, not optional.  The first impression you make with your business card will set a standard for your brand with the customer.  Make sure it communicates clearly and effectively in a memorable way.  

III. What’s the consistent impression of your business?

Your business card may be a starting point but all elements of your marketing should hold together for one consistent approach.  Assume that your customer has contact with you through every means of marketing and advertising.  Do they have the same impression of your business each time or are you sending mixed messages?  Validate each method to make sure you’re saying the same thing.      


  • Is your logo professionally designed to communicate the impression you want the customer to remember?  If your logo is more appropriate for residential real estate than a restaurant, pay someone to develop a memorable logo.   


  • Does your domain name tie back to your brand?  Does it align creatively with your card?  A one color business card with no graphics is instantly at odds with a super charged website with a 30-second flash intro. This signals that you are inconsistent in your approach.  If you can’t market yourself, the client may wonder what the menu will be like when he gets there.  


  • Pull together all the advertising you have done in the past six months.  Does it feel the same in the use of color, logo treatment, style and approach?  If your direct mail method is a black and white letter with a handwritten envelope while your business card is full color glossy, you are again sending mixed signals to your client. This applies to every form of marketing including email marketing, direct mail marketing, print advertising, and more.  Every communication with the customer should be color and logo coordinated to your brand. 

Ultimately, your brand is the culmination of both what you communicate and what is perceived about your business. Appropriately communicating and protecting a brand is something that multi-billion dollar firms like McDonald’s, Apple, or Nike take very seriously.  Sitting down with your restaurant team to focus on these key questions will help you answer the all important question, “What’s Your Marketing Saying about You?”

Robin Gagnon is a retail marketing professional with We Sell Restaurants.  Her expertise focuses on brand marketing and sales driving approaches. 

Topics: Restaurant Brokers

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