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How Consistent Branding Can Be Your Restaurant’s Secret Ingredient

In our nearly 30 years of restaurant branding experience, we’ve seen just about every type of restaurant under the sun. And despite their differences in cuisine, location, and clientele, these restaurants can all be neatly filed under two categories: those that were successful, and those that were not. With the biggest determining factor often being consistency––or a lack thereof.

Consistency is what keeps customers coming back. What makes them refer you to loved ones looking for a good meal. It’s a promise that all the reasons they loved their last meal will be waiting for them when they next grace your dining room.

But consistency isn’t reserved for restaurant experience. Along with delicious food, a unique perspective, and stellar service, a consistent brand, too, can be a key ingredient in your continued success. Follow along to the recipe below as we help you cook up a consistent brand for your restaurant.

Be On-Brand

You probably have no less than 30 brands you can think of in a moment’s notice, simply because of the consistency of their logos, colors, fonts, messaging and voice. Establishing consistent branding for your restaurant means aspiring to this level of ubiquity across every consumer touchpoint: giving your customers the same signature flavor and experience each time they interact with your restaurant.

Spend quality time chewing on the elements mentioned above, ensuring they each send the right message. Burger King’s playful irreverence doesn’t fit McDonald’s, nor could Macca’s bright brand colors work for an upmarket eatery like The Capital Grille. These are the first impressions of your brand, and they’re what will become engrained in customers’ minds as they examine your place in the market. If you’re looking to protect your brand, it will help to compile a comprehensive set of brand guidelines. Think of these guidelines as a marketing Magic 8 Ball: if you’re ever doubting whether a creative decision is on brand or not, simply return to the rules you have in place for guidance.

Be Authentic

In the restaurant business you need to build a foundation of trust and loyalty with your customer base. This will require you to uphold the brand promise you created to build the foundation you need to evolve and expand. It will also demand that you be authentic.

Your customers are smart––they can see right through an inauthentic brand. Give them the credit they deserve by presenting honestly and authentically, drawing from real achievements, strengths, and emotions that translate across your entire organization. Part of establishing an authentic brand is ensuring your team knows how to represent your brand. Make sure they understand and embody your brand’s values and standards.

Look at brands like Sonny’s BBQ. Since undergoing a tip-to-tail rebrand with Push in 2013, they have have proudly maintained a consistent brand that lives authentically throughout the entire company. Their status as legendary local pitmasters is indisputable and shines through every billboard, menu item and social post. If you want an example of a younger company with brand consistency, Smalls Sliders has produced an organic cult-like following in just five short years. This is largely due to their simple, craveable product. But a healthy portion is owed to their consistent, Push-built brand.

Be Memorable

Your brand should be as memorable as your go-to order (double cheeseburger, extra pickles, add Mac sauce––thank us later.) When a brand is consistent across all fronts, spanning social media, web and physical locations, packaging, etc., consumers get to know it so well that they feel personally connected it. They know what it should look like, what it might say, and what it definitely wouldn’t say. (See our point about authenticity above.) A unified marketing strategy that is deeply influenced by your brand’s identity and messaging is great way to solidify the relationship consumers have with your brand.

Hubspot argues that your logo is the most memorable part of your entire brand, and we agree. When done well, it can immediately tie back to the pillars of your brand in the minds of consumers, in addition to looking equally great on a billboard or a napkin. Developing a memorable brand can feel like capturing lightning in a bottle. But consistency will undoubtedly help you put a cap on it.

Be Different

To end up on top in an increasingly competitive market, your restaurant needs to be different than the rest. Or, at the very least, consumers need to believe you provide a unique value that makes you a better option over other restaurants. With only so much wiggle room when it comes to price point and menu options, brand consistency can be a great way to curate a unique personality for your brand. As your brand matures, regular audits of your brand touch points will help you make sure you’re still staying true to the personality that makes people love your brand.

When hanging together, brand elements like signature dishes, distinctive decor, and a clarified visual presence are all ways to establish a distinct brand identity. But, remember: brand differentiation without consistency is a side dish without an entrée. It doesn’t matter how unique you are if you aren’t consistent with it.

Be Connected

Your customers may be the ones who bring home the bacon, but it’s your employees who make sure your doors open every day. Your employees are also your main ambassadors both within your restaurant and out in the world. They may not be in boardrooms making high-level brand decisions, but their daily insights can be instrumental in the success of your brand.

Keep these valuable lines of communication open by creating a feedback loop that encourages both customers and employees to identify areas for improvement in your organization. Even when communicating within your organization or onboarding employees, keep your brand personality and values consistent. Remember what we said about authenticity: A disconnect between how your brand looks or feels internally and externally will put off those consumers who have gotten to know your brand well.

We can look back at Smalls Sliders for a great example of consistent branding within an organization, too. Their brand’s voice and personality are clear and consistent no matter who it is aimed at. And with employees who fully embody their brand, it’s not just their sliders that keep people coming back.

Brand consistency can help you enhance brand recognition, increase customer loyalty, strengthen your brand’s identity, improve marketing efficiency, and improve employee engagement. But, all of these benefits can only be achieved through consistency over time, which will pay off in customer loyalty and the success of your restaurant.

If you want a brand that won’t get lost in the sauce, try out the advice given above. And if you feel like you need more direction, we are more than happy to lead the way. Check out how we helped Smalls Sliders Push their brand to its full potential.