By Dustin Myers, Foodable Industry Expert
It’s a chilling thought, isn’t it? You work so hard to make sure that every area of your restaurant is thriving, but you may be turning away potential customers with poor visual branding.
Your brand identity is often the first touchpoint with potential customers. Before they taste your food, experience your service, or step foot in your environment, they will see your branding. Your exterior signage, website, and social media presence are often the first encounters with your brand. They will form an opinion from that first impression.
It is vitally important to make sure that you are representing yourself accurately, creatively, and consistently. Your visual branding must pique interest and instill trust in order to earn the opportunity to make them a loyal customer.
Here are five mistakes that can turn away potential customers:
People do judge books by their covers — especially today’s visually-driven consumer. How a potential customer perceives your restaurant will be influenced by the quality of your brand visuals. Does your brand show that you put great care and effort into what you do? Does it instill trust? Or was it done in a hurry and with little thought?
Developing an effective brand identity is one of the best investments you can make. Hire a professional designer or team to develop your brand visuals. You get what you pay for. If it’s cheap, it will show.
Brands that are intentional with a strong visual design stand out and pique interest. If you give the wrong first impression with poor quality branding, you may miss out on the chance to win a loyal customer.
Have you ever seen a logo that completely misrepresented the company? There is a construction company I pass on my way to work whose logo communicates the wrong message. It’s a nice looking logo, but instead of communicating “Trustworthy Construction Contractor.” it says “Expensive Brazilian Restaurant.”
This is an extreme example, but we see this in subtle ways all the time.
Besides making you hungry for a burger, the above example shows you how your perception of quality, style, and price is affected by a simple typeface change. When you consider adding color, size, and other variations, you can really see how much visuals impact our perception.
Our brains pick up on so many subtle cues when processing images. A professional designer will know how to leverage these nuances to help tell your story accurately. Who is your target audience? What makes you unique? Make sure that your visual branding communicates who you are to the right audience.
By trying to say too many different things, you will say nothing. What is the one thing you want to be known for? That should be the central message of your brand visuals. When someone encounters your brand for the first time, they should be able to easily identify who you are and what you do.
Your brand strategy should lay out a clear, concise value proposition, and your brand visuals should communicate that effectively.
If your brand visuals are too complicated, you won’t be understood or remembered.
Brands that change visual styles often will have trouble sticking in people’s minds.
You may get tired of seeing something, but that doesn’t mean your audience is. They are seeing it much less frequently than you are. Consistency doesn’t mean boring or stale. It’s possible to maintain creativity while keeping consistency. Your visual brand needs to have guidelines on what elements are foundational to the brand and what areas are safe to exercise more creative liberty.
One way to help maintain consistency is to develop a brand style guide. This will be your foundation from which everything else is built. This should include your logo, brand colors, typefaces, tone, image style, etc., and show how they should be used. This is especially important when third-party vendors are involved. If you don’t have brand guidelines, every application of your branding will look different and cause confusion.
Out of Date
Are your brand visuals relevant? A good logo can last the lifetime of a company, but the supporting elements of the brand will need to evolve to stay engaging. You should be ready to evaluate this every 3-5 years. A brand refresh is necessary when your visuals have become out of date and may include adjustments to the logo, colors, typography, and execution.
Rebranding is more drastic than a brand refresh and is necessary when something fundamental has changed. Throughout the life of a brand, changes will occur. A change in the value proposition, target audience, ownership, location, or a host of other things may warrant rebranding. Has your restaurant made significant changes since the branding was developed? If so, you need to evaluate whether or not the brand visuals are still accurate.
After being close to something for so long, it is easy to overlook problems with your branding. You must regularly put on your potential customer glasses and evaluate your branding as if it were your first time seeing it. Is it interesting? Does it communicate quality? Is it still accurate?
Your visual branding will greatly affect potential customers’ perception. Invest in an accurate, creative, consistent brand identity and you will be rewarded.