Nearly everything you encounter in life has a story to tell.
That saved concert ticket, that photo of your grandparents, and even that person sitting near you at the coffee shop – all have a unique & memorable story. Your restaurant should be no different.
The truth is, restaurant brands relying on worn-out keywords such as "locally-sourced" and "hand-crafted" to tell a ‘story’ must learn that this is simply not enough anymore (nor should it have been relied on as a strategy in the first place).
These phrases have become ‘cliché’ in this over-saturated industry...welcome to 2019!
Restaurants must now make their story meaningful, personal, emotional, simple, and authentic.
Despite the word “story,” it isn’t even confined to the written word. Colors, decor, vendors, staff members, plating, glassware, packaging—even the simplest visual segments within your brand ‘messaging’—can paint a picture worth a thousand words.
Your brand story should start however, by first identifying the following:
Who you are: How your restaurant came to exist today.
What you do: The food, beverage, entertainment, and/or experience you provide.
Who you do it for: The people you want to serve within your community.
Why you do it: Your larger goal; how it benefits your ideal guest & community.
How you do it: Visibility into your food, beverage, and/or experience strategy.
Where you are headed: How you are evolving and working to create the best for your guests & staff.
This may sound similar to the questions you need to answer when developing your four core statements; vision, mission, values, and culture.
This is where it all starts. This is the foundation for your story.
Your curated story needs to grab your ideal guests attention and activate their emotions—and that goes for story-telling across all mediums; including your restaurants interior design, curb appeal, advertising, social media, website, supply chain, training, and service – to name a few.
As humans, when you’re invested in a good story, your brain physically responds to it.
How do you feel your guests are currently responding to your story? I am willing to bet that your guests are no different and crave engaging stories, a dynamic in which your restaurant-guest relationship should be built on trust, mutual respect, and common interests.
They want to connect & interact with you as a brand and to be acknowledged as unique individuals.
And not only will a unique & memorable story improve your relationship, but it will also undoubtedly improve your bottom line.
You can do that by focusing on the following, all of which is in your control:
Architectural Design: You have perfected your statements, brand identity, and the main underlying story you want to tell - now it's time to translate this narrative into compelling visuals.
Restaurant brands and visual presentation go hand-in-hand, it should be no secret. You can have a fantastic brand, but if presented in an unimpressive way, it gets lost in the mix while quickly creating brand confusion. The interior & exterior design of your concept is an opportunity to humanize the story of your brand, creating an experience people want to both interact with and build brand loyalty with.
Generated Content: Powerful content has a great impact when telling the story of your brand. Invest time in unique image & video content as part of your marketing plan. For example, how will your ‘hand-crafted’ pizza using ‘fresh, local toppings’ stand out from every other pizzeria on social media claiming the same narrative? This is your opportunity to create something meaningful, personal, emotional, simple, and authentic. Get creative and think outside the box. Get your entire team involved in helping tell your unique and memorable story.
Food & Beverage: Taking a multi-sensory approach, your food (plus beverage options) must play on the fact that guests not only take-in pleasure through taste, but also from the positive emotions and memories the flavors may evoke; as taste (gustatory), smell (olfactory), and visual senses are forever interlinked into our memories. When you truly understand your target market, you can extract emotions and personalize the food & beverage experience through the use of effective story-telling. If executed properly, stories can stick in the guest’s mind, much longer than a memory of a bite of food or a glass of wine.
Guest Experiences: Whether you’re a neighborhood bar, a QSR with a strong off-premise program, or if you’re a dine-in restaurant, you must believe that every interaction matters. Train your staff to tell the stories behind your food & beverage. Who created them? How did the dish or drink come to life? Don’t rely on words or a long list of ingredients within the menu. Your team should tell a different, highly engaging story for each food & drink option to ensure guests return at a faster rate to try more of your options, resulting in a beneficial bottom-line.
Culture Management: Your brand personality and culture are what makes your brand unique. This should be reflected in your restaurant's story through a strong (and human!) brand voice. You should ensure you have culture-focused ‘systems’ in place to make sure stories lived by all staff, from leadership down to entry-level positions are easily shareable. In a true and managed story-telling culture, everyone participates. Everyone has stories that they live and that are worth sharing with your target market. Don’t be scared to make this change in your strategy. It’s time to humanize your brand.
It isn’t a coincidence that brands with a story last longer than the ones without. The power of your brand reflects how well your restaurant's guests resonate with your story and tell their networks about their experience with you – leading to their networks telling their networks, and so-on.
Story-telling can also be the fundamentals of a successful brand ambassador strategy.
While story-telling has been around since the start of mankind, in today’s world, we have at our disposal more tools than ever before to tell our stories. Let’s not waste that opportunity!