WebstaurantStore / Food Service Resources / In-Depth Articles / What Defines a Good Restaurant Brand?
What Defines a Good Restaurant Brand?

What Defines a Good Restaurant Brand?

Last updated on 7/03/2018

It takes more than good food to run a successful restaurant. Your ambiance, your service, and even your online presence are all important elements of your customer’s experience. Let’s explore what a brand is, the individual elements that make up a brand, and what makes a brand an effective part of any business. Most importantly, let’s discuss how branding can set you apart from your competitors.

What is branding?

Your brand is what gives your business its personality. While offering a good-quality product is important, offering that product in the context of a strong brand is like wrapping a gift with a bow—creating a full experience for the recipient. An experience that often begins with fonts and graphics, and ends with a delicious meal. From start to finish, these elements should be cohesive.

Brands are most often associated with marketing efforts, and while it’s true that a strong brand is important for promoting your business, a well thought-out brand creates an emotional connection with customers and sets your restaurant apart from all the rest.

While you may think of branding only being important to chain restaurants that rely heavily on their branded identity, the same principles apply for all foodservice establishments, from food trucks to Michelin star winners.

Branding is important for restaurants because it gives you the opportunity to establish brand loyalty with your customers. Being brand loyal means that there’s something about that company that shows the world what kind of a person we are. The food we eat is no different. Whether you’re entertaining a client, going on a first date, or simply telling a friend about a meal you had, the restaurant you choose says something about your tastes and values.

10 Elements of a Restaurant Brand

We all have our favorite brand that we choose to support. Usually, it’s because we identify with that brand on some level. The clothes we wear, the car we drive, and the way we decorate our homes are all methods of self-expression. To create a cohesive brand, you have to have all or most of the 10 elements listed below:

1. Concept

This is usually the first thing a restaurant owner decides on. A restaurant concept includes things like: style of food, type of service, and other distinguishing features. Is there a need for another American grill in your town, or is the market saturated? Surprisingly, it’s not impossible to roll out your original concept, but gear it towards an unexpected demographic.

2. Demographics

Think about who your target audience will be. Are you aiming to serve families, romantic couples, businesspeople, or some combination? Are they trendy or traditional? What’s your customers’ price point? These are all important questions to ask when considering your demographic.

3. Mission Statement

This should be one concise paragraph that explains the overall thought behind your business. What is your restaurant aiming to achieve on an emotional level? What are you providing to customers that they can’t find elsewhere? These are the kinds of questions your mission statement should answer. Once you have your mission statement worked out, you can use those words to guide the rest of your choices as you make decisions about all the other elements of your brand.

4. Name

Restaurant names are important. Your name should be unique, yet memorable. Your name should give guests a good sense of what kind of food you serve and what they can expect when they walk through your door.

Color and Font
Logo Image

5. Logo

While symbols can be major components of logos, they’re not always necessary. In fact, a well-chosen font can be just as effective in summing up the feeling of your business on your signage, website, menu, and advertising. Symbols are not essential.

6. Tagline

A tagline is a brief statement (typically no more than 5 words) that sums up the defining feature of a brand. You’ll often hear taglines on radio ads or see them below a logo. Taglines should be a catchy interpretation of the mission statement.

7. Website

While a website has never been a traditional “necessity” for the success of restaurants, it deserves all the time and care you put into the rest of your brand elements. Your website will likely be the very first impression guests will have of your business, so designing a website that’s easy to understand and visually appealing is worth it.

8. Ambiance

Restaurant ambiance is extremely important. While it’s true that some people seek out the best greasy spoons (and there are plenty of examples of seemingly unassuming establishments that somehow become renowned as “the best” fried chicken in the country), most restaurants do need to rely on creating a distinct and pleasant ambiance.

  • Lighting
  • Interior Design Elements
  • Serveware, Barware, and Other Details
  • Color scheme
  • Music
  • Server clothing
  • Even server attitude!

9. Branded Merchandise

Even though you may think of branded merchandise (like tee shirts and beer glasses with logos on them) as being mostly found in breweries, there are some opportunities to offer keepsake products in other styles of restaurant as well. Back in the day, nearly every restaurant and hotel used to provide free matchbooks with their logo and contact info on them. And while matchbooks may be a thing of the past, the same concept applies to other inexpensive items that you can either give away (like pens and stationary) or sell (like tote bags and Christmas ornaments). Especially if your restaurant hosts weddings or parties, customers may love to purchase a memento of their time there. And the more your customers share your logo, the better brand recognition you’ll get.

10. Food

Menu planning is a huge component of your restaurant brand. From the ingredients you use to the name of each dish, try to check every decision against your mission statement to make sure it fits. If you advertise your restaurant as a farm-to-table establishment, make sure you focus on how and where your food is sourced. If you want to be the best burger joint in your town, take extra time to find the perfect bakery that can provide your signature brioche burger buns.

Restaurant Brand Inspiration

As you might expect, many chefs take their inspiration from food—sometimes all it takes is tasting one perfect dish to set the wheels in motion for an entire restaurant concept. And that’s an absolutely great place to begin!

But if you don’t know where to begin, taking a close look at some of your favorite restaurants can help you identify the elements that appeal most to you. Try to analyze the way that restaurant makes you feel, and what specific things contribute to that feeling. While copying other brands outright is not a productive approach, taking inspiration from an existing restaurant’s mood or appearance is natural.

Restaurant Brand Cohesion

Once you’ve settled on the major components of your brand, it’s important to stick to them and make sure they make sense together. For example, you wouldn’t serve filet mignon on a paper plate or play country music at an Italian restaurant. That’s not to say that you can’t mix and match styles in order to intentionally develop an entirely new concept (Welsh fusion, anyone?), but any deviation from the norm should come across as intentional, otherwise you risk missing the mark and leaving your customers feeling confused.

Cohesion extends to your online presence as well. You wouldn’t have a fine dining restaurant that leaves snarky Facebook comments. But if you’re an edgy BBQ food truck, maybe a little bit of snark on social media is perfectly fine! Any time you roll out a new facet of your brand, you should always check in with your gut feelings to make sure it works well within your existing context.

Failing to stay consistent in the ways you represent your brand can result in confusion from customers and will hurt your brand recognition.

Every restaurant has a brand, whether you put effort into it or not. Yes, even the diner with the 15 page menu has a distinct quality that helps customers know what to expect before they even walk inside. But the more time and thought you put into each component of your establishment, the more likely you are to be recognized and appreciated by new and loyal customers alike.

Related Resources

How to Open a Restaurant

With 58% of American adults eating out at least once a week, the restaurant industry continues to thrive. While foodservice trends come and go, it’s certain that many Americans will continue to enjoy meals prepared outside of the home. Starting a restaurant takes a lot of work, but with expert planning, you can start a successful restaurant business. How to Start a Restaurant Opening a restaurant requires juggling many moving parts and can feel like a difficult undertaking. But the procedure is a more manageable feat when broken down. If you're curious about how to open a restaurant, we've created an 11-step guide to navigate you through the process. 1. Choose a Restaurant Concept and Brand When starting a restaurant, it's important to have

Attract Diners with Your Outdoor Restaurant Sign

While there are many sophisticated ways that you can advertise your business, using signs can be very effective and cost efficient . This is especially true if your restaurant is in a high traffic area. In this article we'll explain the best ways your business can utilize your outdoor signage for the best impact as well as what types of signs are best for advertising. 1. Stay Visible First and foremost, your sign should be visible at all times. That goes for patio easels, business logos, sidewalk signs, neon signs, and all other restaurant signs . But, here are a few other things you can consider when choosing signs to advertise your business. Bigger is Better Keep your restaurant sign tall and large so it can be spotted by those walking or

How to Increase Restaurant Sales

If you work in the foodservice industry, you know that the competition can be cutthroat. With lots of competition and rapidly changing trends, it can be tough to keep your business at the forefront of customers’ minds. One major factor to consider is the balance between acquiring new customers vs. retaining existing customers. Then there's the questions of: What do you do with those customers once they’ve come through the door? And how can you get them to spend more without making them feel pressured? Let’s explore some techniques you can use to attract new customers, keep regulars coming back, and, once you have a great customer base, maintain a steady cash flow. Six Ways to Increase Your Restaurant Sales: Whether you have a brand new busi

Subscribe now for great deals and industry tips! Sign up for our mailing list to have weekly discounts and industry knowledge sent right to your inbox.

From Our

At WebstaurantStore we love sharing our fun! Check out some of our weekly Instagram posts! We might even have a recipe or two to share!

View Posts
Display, merchandise, and serve a delicious variety of ice cream flavors with this Avantco ice cream dipping cabinet! Holding up to 12 ice cream tubs at a time, the unit is perfect for ice cream shops, candy stores, dessert bars, and cafeterias. The frozen storage space beneath the display even provides a convenient place for holding up to 8 tubs of back-up flavors, making it a convenient unit for businesses with limited space. Incorporate delicious beef recipes into your menu with this Knauss Foods 6 Ib. classic dried beef deli knuckle. It's ideal for crafting specialty sandwiches and subs or for putting together a tasty party tray with meats and cheeses. Simply cut it into a fine slice and spread softened cream cheese, worcestershire, scallions, and pepper on one side, then roll it up to create a tasty appetizer that's easy to grab and delicious to snack on. This beef accents any of your dishes with a mildly salty, yet beefy and smoky flavor profile that's especially delicious.â € Create signature cookies, easy pie crust designs, or fondant shapes for your bakery, restaurant, or cafe with this Ateco pineapple plunger cutter. Made of high-impact, food-grade plastic, this plunger cutter is perfect for daily use at your bakery. It's great for cutting, embossing, and pressing out fondant and gum paste decorations. Featuring a whimsical pineapple shape, this cutter ensures consistency of size while shortening preparation time. Fire up the grill and test your skills with these grilling techniques.
Food Service Resources

Tips, guides, & advice

Explore Resources
  • Visa
  • Discover
  • American Express
  • MasterCard
  • Paypal