Many restaurants drift in the cloud of confusion. Their messaging is either vague or cliché. They don’t truly understand what their customers want. Their identity design is out of sync with how they want to be perceived. Because of this, their marketing efforts fall flat and they struggle to break through the noise. The solution can seem to be switching things up or trying something new. Unfortunately, this only accelerates the confusion.
If this sounds familiar, it’s good to take a step back and evaluate. You need to rethink how you view branding. To summarize, you need to figure out who you are and figure out how to communicate that effectively. Once you’ve done that, you can begin to execute with consistency.
Which brings us to how to develop brand consistency.
Building your brand is the same as building a personal reputation. As you get to know someone, you can begin to predict how they will present themselves and how they will respond to situations based on their character. Thinking of your brand as a person will help you cut through the noise and connect on a human level.
Building your restaurant's reputation is more difficult because there are many different parts that are out of any one person’s control. If your brand is going to develop the right reputation, it will take intentional effort from the top-down.
Brand-building is any action that moves you closer to the customer perceptions that you desire. Consistent branding happens when those actions are aligned.
Consider these five tips to help maintain brand consistency!
1. Be Authentic
Consistency goes hand in hand with authenticity. Mark Twain is quoted with saying "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.” This is also true for brands. It’s much easier to maintain consistency when you’re being authentic. If you are trying to live up to an unrealistic, idealized version of your brand, you will eventually fail. And when you fail, your reputation will suffer.
Have you defined the values of your brand? What character traits guide decision-making? What personality traits should come through in messaging and customer interactions? Establishing brand values is vital to cultivating a consistent brand. What is your brand message? What is the one thing you want to be known for? Look for the areas that distinguish you from the competition. Embrace those and make them central to what you do. If you are going to make an impression on people, you can't just try to do what everyone else is doing.
2. Make A Clear Plan
It can be easy to lose sight of the big picture when you’re in the trenches every day. That’s why you have to have a simple, easy-to-remember plan in place. You also need to setup guideposts to remind you to stay on track.
Have you formulated a strategy for maintaining consistency throughout your messaging and design? A brand guidelines document will set the standards and give you a foundation for everything moving forward. This should include the messaging and design direction for all of your touch points. You can’t just wing it every time and expect to remain consistent.
3. Get Your Whole Team On Board
Anytime there is more than one person involved, it will take effort to bring alignment. You will have to coach each team member in how that should look. Use your brand handbook in training new employees as well as realigning the existing team.
4. Center All Touch Points Around the Brand Position
Brand touch points can include your website, promotions, social media, signage, in-store communications, employee communication standards, and much more. Each of these should work in concert to communicate one message. Once you have a clear plan, you have to make sure that everything you do passes through this filter.
5. Stay Creative
Consistency doesn’t have to mean stale or boring. Creativity in your brand is being able to communicate the same message in new ways that help people see it from different angles. Can you recite the brand message of Geico Insurance? Geico has been presenting the same brand message for many years, yet they can be creative. Boundaries enable true creativity to flourish.
Your brand is the most valuable asset in your company. Hone it, protect it and build it every day. With a clear plan, you can rise above the noise!
By Dustin Myers, Industry Expert