Rebranding a restaurant is probably not exactly what you think and requires more work than you probably imagine. However, it can be an effective way to increase sales, attract talented employees, and keep up with the changing times.
Especially today, in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns around the U.S., it is crucial to adjust to the changing trends and find new revenue streams. Rebranding your restaurant can be a great way to do just that. For more tips on how to survive the pandemic, read this post.
This post will cover what rebranding a restaurant really entails, when you might want to rebrand your restaurant, and how to do it right.
Rebranding is not just a change of logo, menu, or interior. To put it simply, rebranding a restaurant means changing its brand.
But what is a brand anyway? A brand is the consumers’ perception of the company. It is not what the company does or looks like.
It might seem a little obscure and counterintuitive. After all, you may say that restaurant’s branding materials are the logo, the website, the colors, and the fonts. However, these are just the tools you use to amplify your restaurant’s image in customers’ eyes. Therefore, rebranding means changing consumers’ perceptions of your restaurant.
Rebranding a restaurant is about going to the core of what you stand for, consolidating your aims and vision, and then modifying your image to reflect these changes.
Rebranding your restaurant can be about changing its interior and exterior, the logo, the website, and so on. However, it can include none of these things. For example, let’s say you run an old-school diner in a small town. Your customers love the food and the vibe, but they would like to be able to order food online, use Apple Pay, and follow you on Instagram for updates. You could rebrand your diner to keep up with the technological advances without changing any of the design elements.
It’s a cliché, but change is the only constant in life. If you have run your restaurant for a few years, you might notice that it is not current anymore due to one or more of the following factors:
Let’s imagine that your sales are going down. People visit your restaurant less often, you’re losing some of the regular guests. It looks like it’s time to change something about your brand. Maybe it’s the menu or the interior. Maybe it’s the drinks selection. Whatever the cause of declining sales is, you should find it and fix it.
There’s a new kid on the block – a more polished, more sophisticated, cheaper, and generally, a better restaurant has opened in your community. Rebranding may be a good way to avoid losing customers. Follow Instagram’s example: when Snapchat came out, Instagram added Stories; recently, after TikTok gained popularity, Instagram added Reels. You already have a circle of customers and if you make slight changes to your branding, you can ensure that they won’t leave you for the competition.
You might want to open another location or start a franchise. If the target audience becomes broader or different as a result of this expansion, you should consider what you need to change in your brand to attract those new segments of customers.
Sometimes rebranding is a necessity, not a choice. Particularly, when you face a reputational crisis that needs to be fixed. If the situation is dire and your restaurant’s image is badly hurt by the crisis, I would strongly suggest consulting PR professionals. You can read about specific examples of rebranding in a crisis here.
The first step to a successful rebranding is gaining self-awareness. In order to do that, you can ask yourself the following questions:
Once you answer these questions, you should have a clear picture of your restaurant, the value you want to provide, and why you want to rebrand it. Next, you should make sure that your customers agree with you on these topics.
You want to understand who your customers are, what they like about your restaurant, and what they don’t like about it. In the previous example, the small-town diner was a popular spot, however, it needed to keep up with technological changes.
In order to learn about your customers and their preferences, you can create a simple survey for your customers or ask your employees what the customers share with them. The survey should be short and easy to answer. It is best to include demographic questions in order to learn if your current customers and your ideal customers are the same. To read more about a target audience, visit this post.
Next, examine the survey responses and write down whatever you heard from your staff and your customers. Some findings will be obvious, but others might surprise you. Compare the survey results with what your perception of your restaurant is (from Step 1) and analyze where the discrepancies may come from.
Your restaurant exists in a competitive environment; therefore, you should know what your competitors offer in regards to food, drinks, ambiance, online services, delivery, and so on. This way you will have a better understanding of what image your restaurant has among the consumers and how its image differs from the competitors’.
Once you have a good idea of who you are, how your customers see you, and who your competitors are, you can identify your unique value proposition (UVP). UVP is a clear statement that describes the benefit of your offer, how you solve your customers’ needs and what distinguishes you from the competition.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Your staff is your greatest resource – they know your customers, they know your restaurant, and they have a different perspective than you. Thus, you should ask your employees for feedback during the planning process to make sure the rebranding is as effective as possible. What is more, if your staff is not on board with the rebranding, the whole process is likely to be a failure.
At this point, you know your destination, which is to serve your unique value proposition to your target market. Thus, the next step is to create a path to get there so that you better communicate your UVP to your target audience.
Consider all areas of your restaurant marketing, operations, human resources, and whatever else you can come up with to decide which ones need to be adjusted for the rebranding.
When it comes to marketing, you may need to change the logo and other branding materials, the tone of your social media presence, your email newsletters, or the website. Furthermore, you might need to retrain your staff, create new guidelines for service, or change the staff dress code.
Once you know what you need to do, create a step-by-step plan with a timeline to see what should happen when and in what order.
Once you have your rebranding plan set up and ready to go, you should make a public launch of your newly rebranded restaurant. Don’t try to do it in phases since that would only confuse your customers. Be transparent and tell them what you’re doing and why in order to maintain their trust.
You can use the rebrand to engage your customers on various platforms. For example, you can send them a few teaser emails that will hint at some changes that are coming to your restaurant. Similarly, you can creatively communicate the rebrand to your social media audiences.
Rebranding a restaurant is a great excuse for some fun! You can hold special events, parties, tasting menus, and so on. Also, in today’s reality, you might choose to hold virtual events instead of in-person ones.
Whatever you do, make sure you are using the rebranding to engage your customers and gain more publicity and word of mouth.
Rebranding is not a “set it and forget it” process. You should get some feedback from your target audience, and analyze your business performance to assess the impact of rebranding on your revenue.
You can get feedback informally, by asking customers in person, or you can use online surveys.
To sum up, rebranding a restaurant is a process of changing the restaurant’s brand, which is consumers’ perception of it.
There are several reasons why you might decide to rebrand your restaurant:
Whatever your reason is, once you make the decision to rebrand a restaurant, you should follow the 9 steps below:
Rebranding a restaurant can be a long process, but I hope these tips will help you get through it seamlessly. Done right, it will excite and re-engage your customers or leave you in a strong position to attract a new audience.