Before jumping into the technicalities of creating a restaurant website, it is vital to define your restaurant brand strategy.
Why brand strategy for a restaurant website? Restaurant brand strategy will be the main guideline on creating your website. It will act as a reference throughout the journey of creating a successful restaurant website.
A restaurant brand strategy encompasses:
- What your restaurant’s brand stands for.
- What promises your restaurant makes to customers.
- What personality your restaurant conveys through its marketing.
Cultivating a restaurant branding strategy is no different than any other kind of brand, in essence. You’re essentially crafting the identity that you’ll have in a particular space.
However, the restaurant space is unique in that it encompasses many segments and caters to every type of customer imaginable.
Guests will use some composite of your visual identity, and their own experiences to determine the quality of your restaurant’s brand.
While there are many old school attitudes regarding branding, it’s important to remember that “no brand” is still a brand. So, try as you might, you’ll never escape it.
It’s an intricate part of consumer culture, and it’s what keeps customers coming back.
Restaurant Branding: First Things First
Before you can worry about the granular aspects of a restaurant branding strategy, you need to establish a foundation.
Whether you’re just opening a restaurant, or you’ve been around for a while, a mission statement will help your branding efforts in always providing a place towards which to orient.
At Tavernify, brand strategizing is one of the processes that we do before doing any web design work. However, from our experience, when we had our initial discussion with our clients, most of them were having a difficult time defining their mission statement. It was not because they do not have any mission statement, but their mission was not clear enough.
With a clear mission statement, creating a website will empower their brand and be able to steer the restaurant to the right direction.
A mission statement for a restaurant should answer five questions:
1. Who are you?
Straightforward enough. What are you? Are you a restaurant? A food truck? What’s your name? What’s the name customers will use to refer to you?
2. What do you do?
What do you serve? How do you distribute it, outside of walk-in customers? Do you provide delivery or carry out services? Can customers order from you online? Can they make reservations? Do you cater?
3. For Whom are you doing it?
Who is your primary demographic? For many restaurant operators, the answer to this question is “everyone.” And while this may be true, try to specify your ideal customers. Are they looking for lunchtime convenience? Are they trying to get away for the evening? Trying to feed a family?
4. Why do you do it?
What’s your primary purpose in running the restaurant? Sure, you want to make money. But, what else? What are some of the goals you have in doing it? Are you addressing a need in the community?
5. How are you going to do it?
Through what means do you plan on achieving your mission statement? Upscale service? Traditional-Cultural decor? Live music? Think about the metrics you’d use to measure your success.
While these questions may seem basic, you’ll probably find that a little introspection goes a long way in helping build your brand. If you struggle to answer the five questions above, that’s OK. It may take some time to key into them. We highly encourage you to have that all figured out before making any moves on branding though.
Identify your Position in the Space
Upon determining your mission statement, the next important piece of developing a restaurant branding strategy is to identify where exactly you fit into the landscape, or at least, where you’d like to be.
There are many restaurants, many of whom essentially compete for the same customer base. If you don’t have a clear understanding of where you fit in, neither will your potential customers.
Five good questions to ask in determining your position in the restaurant space might be:
1. What do you serve?
Now’s the time to be specific. Do you serve upscale Malaysian cuisine? Thai food? Breakfast platters?
Your special menu will help determine where you sit in the local (and national!) space, and in many cases, your customer-base and segment.
2. What are your value props?
Besides the killer food you create, what are some of the benefits for a customer who eats at your restaurant?
Consider the convenience, the location, the ambiance, and the prices.
3. Who, specifically, are your customers and what do they want?
Ask yourself what a guest of your restaurant values, and how you cater to those needs. Are you open during late night hours to serve people who work third shift? Do you feature a robust delivery service? All of this help determine what customers want and why they’d choose your restaurant in the first place.
4. What are your competitors doing?
Competitor research is crucial to branding. Upon identifying the last three questions, try and determine which other restaurants also cater to that niche in your area.
What are your competitors doing well, that you could implement or do better? What are your competitors not doing that you could apply? Can you do what they aren’t?
It’s not the end of the world if they are doing things you can’t, but you will have to strategize in other areas.
5. Utilize Restaurant Data
If you’ve been in business for a while, and you’re rebranding, you may have access to restaurant data which can help in your branding efforts.
If you’ve got robust kitchen technology, like a kitchen display system, you can likely access restaurant data which will give insight into your own identity and customer types.
This data may include average party sizes, revenue statistics, popular menu items, and more.
Once you’ve determined your brand, you must document it.
Document your mission statement, and return to it often.
Ensure that all your staff – veteran and rookie – are familiar with the branding guidelines, and maintain consistency there.
Your brand doesn’t exist if you’re the only one who knows about it. Make it as visible as possible, and let staff know where they can refer to it if they need to.
Restaurant websites provide an excellent channel to showcase your brand through photography, curated content, your menu and other information a customer would find useful about your restaurant.
Some restaurants use these platforms to tell their unique origin stories or include quotes from satisfied clients. Others may opt to have a strictly “bare bones” approach. There’s no right or wrong, but know this: creating a website helps you “own” your SEO a bit.
When someone Googles your restaurant or restaurants in the area, it makes it far more likely that your website will come up, and not just third party review sites which you cannot control.
After you’ve done all these exercises, you are ready to initiate the restaurant website building process.