The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
I recently presented to a local chapter of the National Restaurant Association at their annual meeting. I spoke about “The 10 Things Every Restaurateur Should Know About Building and Marketing Strong Brands.” Here are the ten things:
1. Know your customers
2. Know what they value
3. Build awareness
4. Be unique and compelling
5. Have a convenient/visible location
6. Have convenient hours
7. Develop a concept
8. Exceed customer expectations
9. Focus on front line employees
10. Create sensory experiences
For instance, for the first point (know your customers), think about this. What is of the greatest value to each of these customers?
• A harried father with three young children
• A couple celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary
• A large person with a voracious appetite
• Business partners wanting to have a serious discussion over lunch
• A vegan
• A business executive wanting to entertain businesspeople from China
• A delivery truck driver wanting to eat in 15 minutes or less
• A couple on their way to the theater
• A high school boy on his first date with a girl on whom he has a crush
• A group of high school kids hanging out
• A world traveled epicure
• A mother wanting a quick bite to eat while running Saturday errands
• A group of thirty-something women celebrating a divorce
Consider the following attributes:
• Menu (type, variety, ala carte versus fixed price, etc.)
• Flavors, textures, ingredients, freshness, organic
• Food quantity
• Availability of alcohol, wine list, etc.
• Ambience (architecture, light, sound, décor, etc.)
• Upscale versus comfortable/homey, etc.
• Privacy (versus people on display to be seen)
• Wait staff (invisible versus interactive)
• Activities for children
• Total elapsed time (leisurely versus quick)
• Total price
Often, restaurateurs realize that their restaurants need to be repositioned, but they want to do this without incurring the huge expenses of capital projects/leasehold improvements. This can occur when a restaurant gains the reputation of being a “blue hair” restaurant, which can even dissuade 50 and 60 year olds from dining there. It can also occur, when a restaurant located in a hotel is passed over by people in the community because of the general perceptions of ‘hotel restaurants.’
There are cost-effective solutions to repositioning these brands if the restaurateur can identify whom he or she would like to increasingly attract. Often, a simple gimmick, menu change or other market segment-specific cue can be all that it takes to attract new customers. Drive this with a little buzz marketing, and the restaurant is well on its way to attracting a new audience.