Waiter carrying a tray in a restaurant.

Restaurants have many ways to enhance their branding. Look for opportunities in everything from the decor to the lighting to the music to the staff uniforms. In fact, almost anything customer facing can be an opportunity to improve branding.

When Pauline J. Brown joined the board of directors for Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group in 2017, she observed that most of the other directors and the management of the company focused on operations.

On one hand, this was a good thing. No restaurant can run smoothly without paying attention to operations. But, on the other hand, the focus on operations appeared to have left open the opportunity for improvement in other areas.

As Brown relates in her new book, Aesthetic Intelligence, Del Frisco’s got a lot of things right but one thing the management did not get right was the waitresses’ uniforms.

“Nothing distinctive or expressive – in fact, it was the sort of outfit you might expect to see at any generic restaurant,” Brown writes.

To remedy the situation, Brown introduced Del Frisco’s management to a well-known fashion designer and stylist who translated the company’s brand pillars into uniforms “that expressed quality and supported the Del Frisco’s dining experience.”

Moreover, the designer created style guidelines for the staff to outline standards for hair, makeup, jewelry and other personal touches.

Once the changes were unveiled, Brown said she noted an unanticipated benefit: “the staff took pride in their new look and showed more enthusiasm toward their jobs.”

The modest investment Brown induced Del Frisco’s management to spend on the uniforms and the style guidelines had an immense return on investment. It enhanced the company’s brand and made an impression on customers, according to Brown.

The book encourages business owners of all sizes to take stock of their enterprises and look for similar opportunities to enhance branding.

But, it shouldn’t be just any old branding. It should be strong branding that connects with the senses. Meaning it should be something memorable to the eyes, ears, nose, skin or tongue. Bu, what do we mean by ‘strong’ branding? Brown offers the following tips for what differentiates strong branding from weak branding:

It can stand the test of time
A brand must evolve over time but its essential elements will stand the test of time. Brown points to the Jolly Green Giant in the frozen food section of a grocery store. The giant itself has evolved its look over the years to make it appear more modern but it’s still a green giant that says ‘Ho ho ho.’ The jingle will probably stay in consumers’ minds for a long, long time to come.

Similarly, Harley Davidson’s brand is not likely to change very much over the long haul. That’s because the brand is not tied to any fleeting fad or fashion moment. It stands outside these currents because it doesn’t want to be tied to the changing tastes of the crowd. In doing so, the brand doesn’t need to change very much as the years go by.

It’s precise and specific
Good branding should not be fuzzy in any way. It’s got to be specific and precise because it won’t stay in the consumer’s mind if it’s indistinguishable from the hundreds of other brand colors, logos, fonts, experiences, etc.

For example, Tiffany’s uses a specific tone of blue for its branding. Brown notes that the color is called robin’s egg blue and it is number 1837 on the Pantone Matching System chart. Again, it’s not just any blue. If it was any blue, that could lead to brand confusion for consumers.

It’s ownable
This may seem obvious, but Brown emphasizes that the branding needs to be something that a company can call its own. In a way, it’s a call for something unique that even it if was used by another company, the consumer still associates the branding with the original company.

For examples, she says to look at the mouse ears of Disney or Harvard’s use of crimson.

“Regardless of intellectual property constraints, strong codes cannot be easily replicated by others,” Brown writes. “And even when they are replicated, they remain tightly associated with their original brand ‘owners.’”

It’s relevant
As we’ve mentioned, the branding should stand the test of time, but it should also be relevant to your company’s core business. In other words, the branding should not be “developed in isolation,” as Brown writes, but it should relate to other aspects of the business.

For example, we’ve mentioned Tiffany’s use of robin’s egg blue. That color, along with Tiffany’s uses of green, evoke a cool, calming sensation, Brown notes. But they go on to do a lot more, she says.

“The color is associated with serenity, peacefulness, prosperity, and femininity, all of which connect seamlessly with the company’s core saleable products such as gemstones and especially diamonds, precious metals, and exquisitely designed home goods such as crystal and china,” she writes.

In that way, the colors do a lot of work making connections in the consumers’ minds.

And, at the end of the day, that’s what strong branding does: it connects your business with a product or service in a consumer’s mind. If it doesn’t, well that’s just weak branding and you’ve got to look for ways to punch it up using the types of tips that Brown provides.

Doing so will put your restaurant on the path to becoming unique in customers’ minds when compared to the hundreds of other food choices in your city.

Looking for other ways to improve the branding and marketing at your restaurant? Learn how a point of sale system can help you grow revenues and repeat customers. Contact us today for a free demo.

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