Data Intelligence

Voice and Brand—Your Restaurant’s Calling Card

The brand and voice of your restaurant defines who you are and what you stand for. Through these two identifying markers, a potential or current customer should be able to write your mission statement. Take Ben and Jerry’s. If you know anything about their company, you know they are employee-centric and that they have a social consciousness and sustainable environment outlook. Their ice cream cartons tell you they enjoy life in the midst of trying to make the world a better place. How does buying a carton of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream make their customers feel? Playful, contributing to a company with the best interest of its employees and planet at heart, and probably a little guilty. Ben & Jerry’s sold in 2000 for about $326 million in cash.

Your Brand

A brand defines your customer’s expectations. It determines their loyalty. Determining your target audience—families, professionals, sport’s enthusiasts, the single and hip crowd—will help you define your brand. If your restaurant was a person, what do they look like and how are they dressed? Your brand must be foremost in your mind from the conception of your restaurant in such a way that it does not waver. While re-branding is an option for those on the edge of getting run over by the competition, it’s an expensive pursuit. It’s a much better strategy to take the world by storm right from the get-go. Now, to contradict, some restaurants actually re-brand each year in order to, once again, be the new kid on the block in an extremely competitive market; however, if you strive to be the best in your class, yours will be a brand and voice that you want to keep and build on for years to come.

Your Voice

Your voice is your brands personality. It defines you in a way few other marketing strategies can. If you could use one word to define the person you created to depict your brand, what would it be? Playful, sophisticated, inspiring? This is your restaurant’s voice and will define the language you use throughout all marketing platforms including social media. It will define how you respond and engage with your customers. Your portrayal of who you are and what you stand for will determine if your voice is whimsical, complex or educational. Do you have a target audience in mind? Choose your voice accordingly.

Examples

What do you see and feel when you think of Applebee’s? A great sports bar with enthusiastic guests cheering on their favorite teams? Hm. Not so much. A family gathering place where children laugh with the waitstaff and color on paper table cloths? No. Not really. Applebee’s is an example of a restaurant that, while we recognize the name, we know very little about what they stand for other than reasonable prices and okay food. This could explain why their president recently resigned and they just hired a new creative agency, and why another 40 to 60 locations are expected to close this year after 46 shut their doors in 2016.

Now think Buffalo Wild Wings. Immediately you think of your favorite sauce on chicken wings with a tall cold glass of your favorite brew. You’re cheering for your favorite sport’s team in an open-room environment that promotes a party atmosphere. Everything in the restaurant screams sports from the memorabilia on the walls to the jerseys on the waitstaff. Their voice? Fun and loud. And it’s worked for them. They’ve grown to over 1,000 locations and plan to open over 1,000 more.

Branding and Voice can be seen in the menu, the logo, décor, outside exterior and signage. It’s in the attitude of your employees and should be seen and heard across all media platforms. Digital marketing requires great content and visuals that pop off the page—but it is your voice that readers remember. If you engage with them in a consistent tone that tells a story and shows you’re listening as they tell theirs, you will have a customer for life.

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