In the restaurant industry it’s all about the food, right? Actually, no!
When you open a restaurant, you may start off with the romantic idea of everyone falling in love with your food. The truth: people fall in love with experiences. That means you have to manage much more than what ends up on their plates. Here’s what’s important:
- The atmosphere
- The presentation
- Quality of service
So, how much time have you spent on perfecting these aspects of your business? And how much time have you spent making sure everyone around town knows about all these features in your restaurant? These—along with doing marketing and creating your public image—all result in your brand image: what others know and think about your restaurant.
We’ll count down the reasons why those who have made it, prioritizes brand building and maintaining a positive brand image on a continual basis. You’ll see why this is something you need to focus on for your 2020 plans.
It’s How Consumers Experience You OUTSIDE Your Four Walls
What you offer your customers actually start long before they enter your restaurant door. It includes every piece of marketing and communication you send out that becomes a representation of what your brand has to offer.
Here’s an example: when someone sees the Starbucks logo they immediately imagine a yummy drink in their hand and they WANT that drink. This is the result of diligent brand image building over the years. That’s the power of marketing.
In short, your brand image forms part of your customers’ experience but also your POTENTIAL customers’ experiences. They have to be intrigued and impressed enough to want to experience more of what your brand image promises.
It’s How You Show Them Who You are
What do you want your clients to think of when they see your storefront as they pass by, or even if they see your café or eatery logo design and ad in the local paper? Because consumers are attracted to positive experiences, you want them to associate the following with you:
- Excellent customer service
- Scrumptious food
- A comfortable setting
Even if this is true about your restaurant, your customers of last week may have forgotten already. But if marketing, word of mouth and reviews have created a strong brand image in your community, these truths about your restaurant will be remembered easily. Continual branding means your brand’s image—an ad, your logo or someone saying your name—automatically sparks these thoughts in consumers, so they’ll want to come again.
If you do branding right, your brand image can assure people they’ll get what they’re looking for, even if they’ve never been through your doors. And they’ll come to get it. That’s the power of branding and why the experts view branding expenses as important investments.
A Brand Image Sets You Apart
You don’t want potential customers going to the steak house down the road when your dishes are ready and waiting—and probably better tasting. But why should someone pick you above the other eateries in the food court? If you can answer that you have your USP (Unique Selling Point) and that’s something you have to include in your marketing, so it becomes part of your brand image.
After enough continuous branding in this way, diners will drive past, see your name or logo and immediately connect that with what makes your different. And because consumers love being part of the latest trends and they don’t want to miss out on something special, they will be more inclined to stop outside your restaurant.
Brands Spark Loyalty
We’re still on the subject of experiences: your customers want to experience what it’s like to be part of something. The need for inclusion is why social media is such a great hit in the 21st century. But they also want to be part of something EXCEPTIONAL. Your branding—not only your food—tells them that you’re that amazing group they should be part of.
Remember: the buzz around your name can’t only be created by customers: you need to create and maintain it though branding. You need to control your branding image, so the right message reaches your audience.
When diners identify a brand they feel comfortable with, respect and want to return to—to experience it again—they turn into loyal clients.
The beauty of having loyal customers is that it will take a lot of effort for another brand to steal them away. They already have a place where they’re experiencing what they’re after—belonging—so why would they move?
But it all starts with creating a brand image that people can trust enough to try out and then become loyal to.
Positive Brand Image = Value and Profit
What makes consumers pay more? Let’s continue the Starbucks example: someone may pay a high price for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, while they won’t even think of paying the same for a similar sized coffee at their local café.
The reason? They believe they’re getting better value for money at Starbucks.
Yes, there may be a few extras like cream and sprinkles on top. But can’t any coffee outlet do that?
The real differences are the following:
- Firstly, Starbucks created a brand image that is respected. Consumers trust this brand to only give them the best possible coffee, so they feel comfortable giving them—a lot of—money in return.
- Secondly, restaurants like Starbucks created a brand image that is coupled with the message ‘you should feel good about the choice you just made’. Buying something that will make you feel good is a worthwhile expense, which means people are willing to pay more.
Once again: can you see how this relates to the experience of your restaurant, much more than the actual dish or beverage?
Before you go
You can see these reasons influence who and how many people walk through your doors and how much they’ll spend. Your brand image outside your restaurant determines how many sales you’ll have today. The way you maintain that brand image, inside and outside your restaurant, can affect how many of those sales turn into return—loyal—customers.
See the pattern? And that’s how your brand image determines your bottom line. That’s not to be ignored, right?
Anne Sherman works as a freelance content writer, by providing quality and SEO optimized write ups to help boost their ranking as well as appeal to their customers. She likes to spend her time at the library reading or playing cross-word puzzles.