Restaurant Branding| Are They Waste Of Time?



I often ask my clients or prospective clients. What do they want from their restaurant business?

 Quite often, they say they want to create a brand.

 Quite often, they are tempted to spend all their hard earned limited resources on branding. The idea that one needs to create a logo or colour or packaging material which is of prime importance for success.

 Far from it.


Mistake In Restaurant Branding & Advertising

Logo Packaging & Name

In your quest to create the next big thing, you may be tempted to spend on a fair share of resources to create your logo and design your packaging.

These are important, but not that important for a start-up.

You have to recognise that you can improve your logo in time to come. Your logo is the manifestation of experience and not your experience the expression of your logo.

My message is when starting your restaurant, to be frugal.

Your choice of restaurant name is essential, and you must think it over. However, if you pay someone an obscene amount of money to choose your name, then it’s a terrible waste of resources.

Your resources are better spent creating in defining better customer experience, and a well thought out customer communication program.

Image advertising.

The idea of creating a restaurant brand also extends of getting your name out there.

What is image advertising

 In a sense, an impression is created, that one needs to focus on creating an image which will generate results. The truth is that the customers don't care. Image advertising can prove to be far too expensive and unproductive.

The central premise that creating an image and spending money to getting your brand name known to people will deliver footfalls doesn't work. The biggest problem with this kind of expenditure is that there is no accountability of spends. The old joke 50% of my advertising is a waste, but I don't know which 50% is.

Get the name out there

The followers of branding have bought into the idea that more people see the name, the better.

 In reality, it is not how many people will know a name; but, whether your communication can stimulate your target audience to buy from your restaurant.

The people outside a trading area don't come to know your name, does it matter. The need for brand recognition, if deemed necessary, is only relevant for your niche. It has been proven and experienced that the emphasising on making a name famous does not result in sales.

 In an advertisement, the least important aspect is your name. What's more important is clear communication for your customer as to what's in it for them.

Image advertising.- lack of preparation

Many restaurant owners are tempted towards image advertising because they are not prepared. Image advertising allows them to look busy. It's an absence of a strategy for customer acquisition.

Many restaurant owners are tempted towards image advertising because they are not prepared. Image advertising allows them to look busy.

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 Image advertising does not stimulate trial.

Moreover, what a small business or restaurant owner needs is people walking through the door or picking up the phone and ordering food.

 So before we delve into a solution, lets look at what's a brand.

 To create a brand,you need to create an experience which results in the creation of a brand..”

- Mango Kurry

What is a brand?

 The word brand comes from the word burn. It means to burn an image to get results. I am implying that you need to burn an image in the mind of the consumer.

 I advocate  to create a brand you need to create an experience which results in the creation of a brand.

In a sense, it is an idea of your restaurant concept which manifests itself in meal experience, which may be represented by logos, colour symbols

So how should a restaurant go about building a brand? 


Laying The Foundation

The concept

Restaurant Owners confuse image and logo colour with brand identity. For a small business, your concept is your brand. It is your core central promise what you offer to your customer.

The creation of your brand identity is created only by experience.

To build your business by creating a recognise a symbol which allows people to recall what your business is about is a sheer waste of resources. I met people who spent a ton of money for someone to choose a name.

Small restaurants can't afford that.

 Logo, slogan sort of imagery are simple devices to convey support, a brand identity. However, brand identity is about ideas first and representation of ideas second.

Naming your restaurant

One way to cut through the clutter is to have a restaurant brand name, which tells you what your restaurant is about to your prospective customer.

 If you are about the pizza place. Then have pizza in your name. Unique about kebabs then have kebabs in a name.

Customer Journey- when does he buy

As a restaurant owner, you need to focus on the customer journey, understand your customer and be ready when he is ready to buy.

Spend some time thinking and articulating as to how your customer will find you, consider dining with you, choose to visit you, consume the experience and come back. The articulation of the journey is unique to your establishment. It must be done. Moreover, this customer journey will articulate what kind of assets you need to create to enable us to move onto the next step.

Some steps of the journey are- 

Restaurant Customer Journey










Meal Experience.




Repeat visit.

Getting Your Customers

The offer

So what shall a new restaurant owner do? I prescribe one needs to focus on a value proposition and an offer to generate sales versus focusing on image advertising.

As a restaurant Startup, you need to consider what will it cost you to acquire your customer.

To get your customer try you once, you need to have an irresistible offer. It would be best if you thought of offers in two ways-a deal for the first time customer and a proposal for the regular patrons.

The customer does not care for your name or your product but looks out for what’s in it for him.

As a young start-up, you need to articulate what will you do to get new customers and what you will do to get them back. Both require different strategies and assets.

“The customer does not care for your name or your product but looks out for what’s in it for him.”

Result driven advertising

Small businesses need results now. They need to focus on results-driven communication. Restaurant owners have cash flow concerns and have to meet their budgets every day In-N-Out.

The luxury of spending money on image-based advertising concentrate on creating a logo or some brand identity, which will give results in the future is too much of a risk.

marketing budget for result-driven advertising

As a restaurant owner funds are limited, and you need only to spend money on results-driven advertising. This premise liberates you from budgeting a small percentage of revenue on sales and marketing.

The general notion is that marketing is an expense. If for every 10 bucks spend and you get 20 back, the question is when should you stop. 

Probably never.

Keeping Your Customers

Experience Create The Brand

As I said before the least important part of an ad is a brand name and worse your logo. Recognise that remarkable execution creates an excellent experience which creates a brand. Branding as such is a byproduct. If you wish to be known then be known only to the customers that matter.


Restaurant culture precedes image advertising.

 Culture is how we do things. How we make people feel. What is essential is the sense of hospitality- how you make people feel, probably the single most crucial aspect of creating a great experience and building your esteemed brand.


As a restaurant owner, you need to have the right product. Your product needs to be backed with operational excellence. Which means you get it done right the first time. Peppered with little hospitality and the right communication, you have all the ingredients of creating a remarkable brand.

As a restaurant owner, stop wasting your time on branding efforts. Think of getting the product right, developing operation excellence, warm hospitality and customer communication using the right media for the right message for the right market. Small business and all restaurants are really small business do not have deep pockets for unaccountable branding efforts

About the author 

Sartaj S Bedi

With 20-year restaurant industry expertise, offering insights and expertise in strategy, operations, and quality. He employs a holistic approach to guide clients towards strategic success.

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