Monday, November 28, 2011

Restaurant Files: Branding And Marketing

Are you branding your food business? Or are you marketing it?

Some business owners think that restaurant branding and restaurant marketing are practically the same. While it is true that they have their similarities, the truth is, branding your food business and marketing it are two entirely different aspects of managing your business.

Marketing is when you identify your target markets, enforce campaigns to attract new customers and repeat business and sustain momentum with promos and new items on the menu. What about branding? Branding is a longer-term effort to create a niche in the industry. It is a long and subtle process achieved through many ways, one of which is marketing. Remember, not all names or companies become brands. A brand is one that “transcends generations.”

How do you create or identify a brand?

1. Awareness. It’s that sense of familiarity. It does not have to be a cult following that could eventually wane. People see a logo printed on customized beverage napkins or a color or hear a mention of your specialty and they remember your brand. That’s awareness. How does a restaurant achieve this? Presentation. Your food may not be new or innovative but if you present it in a manner that is easy to remember and easy to connect with, it will stick around in people’s memories for a long time.

2. Loyalty. Customer service programs that make people feel like they are part of a family or a community develops loyalty. A brand should be looked on as something that makes people feel comfortable.

3. Perceived quality. Of course, if you want your food business to stick around, you have to have food that’s worth coming back to again and again.

4. Strong and positive associations. When your brand is seen or mentioned, people should have fond memories related to it. It should be a memory that is unique to the kind of food that you offer.

5. Patents and trademarks. Over time, especially when your business is growing, you will find a need to protect your public identity through patents and trademarks. Before you come to this point, you can fortify your brand’s image through novel and simple forms of marketing such as customized beverage napkins, custom cups and custom food containers, among others.

Longevity in the business is not achieved overnight. You can be a hit today but without foresight through branding, your success is likely to be short lived.

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