The Importance of Visual Branding in Restaurants

Visual branding is critical for any business because it often shapes a consumer’s overall perception.

This is especially true in the restaurant industry, where making an impactful first impression is crucial for drawing in new customers and driving sales. Restaurant owners need to decide what message they want to convey and who they are trying to reach.

Visual branding gives equal consideration to the emotional elements and abstract constructs that need to be portrayed about the restaurant’s culture and story.

After deciding on the content and the target audience, its time translate that information and begin building a visual messaging plan that accurately communicates the businesses’ core values.

A restaurant’s logo, graphics, façade, menu and décor are all vastly important and should be designed to express the business’s message accurately and consistently. If the initial visual engagement doesn’t whet the appetite, potential customers may quickly turn around and find a new restaurant.

Visual branding gives equal consideration to the emotional elements and abstract constructs that need to be portrayed about the restaurant’s culture and story.

If done effectively, emotional visual connections can dish up more sales. Our expression “Surface Impact!” conveys this concept of maximizing the visual influence of every surface to achieve the greatest branding and monetary potential.

The 3 C’s

It’s nearly impossible to look at restaurants as a single category and give overarching guidelines as to what needs to be incorporated into their visual communications. This is because a QSR will differ from the needs of casual dining as it does again at a fine-dining establishment. However, as with any industry, there are three elements that should always be obeyed, the all important 3C’s: correctness, creativity and consistency.

Correctness

While creating your restaurant’s visual branding elements, ask yourself – is what you’re promoting truthful and authentic to what’s being delivered, does it align with your brand? Weaving in visual communications helps tell a story. And what makes for strong messaging with one brand may not be right for another.

For example, an interior graphic showing a happy family enjoying their time together may be impactful on the walls of a QSR, but it wouldn’t be well received at a high-end steak house where history, quality and an elegant dining experience are crucial messages that need to be expressed.

Weaving in visual communications helps tell a story.

Great imagery and a compelling color palate go hand-in-hand with driving food sales and inspiring return visits. In order to achieve effective visual branding through imagery and colors, you must first understand your customer, their nature and how your brand will best relate to them.

For instance, if your restaurant is targeting the “ladies who lunch” demographic, researching colors, fonts, textures and other visual stimuli that rate high amongst women would bring value to your visual branding initiatives. According to ISPO, 90 percent of all purchases are made subconsciously – meaning they are driven by emotional processes, not intellectual ones. Through the use of compelling colors, you trigger your customer’s emotions and as a result can increase sales.

Creativity

Dining is a personal and emotional experience that relies on visuals to appeal to all senses. Evoking excitement within your customers won’t be achieved through flat, boring imagery.  Remember, we don’t live in a one-dimensional world, true “surface impact” is created through a multi-sensory lens where depth and touch are added components. Layering dimensional components to the wall atop a graphic, an interactive standee that customers can take a selfie with to share on social media or simply sourcing an unusual material to mount or print a menu on, will all serve to make the customer journey far more memorable.

Remember, your visual communication elements have to pop—and that doesn’t mean gaudy, just that they need to be both appropriate and memorable. The aromas of the graphics, the flow of the font and the dish descriptors should all blend nicely to make the mouth water. 

Consistency

This is where brand standards and guidelines are immensely important—making sure you are using the same typefaces, colors and style of photography to ensure there is a consistent theme across all advertising efforts and throughout the restaurant. This also applies to ensuring uniformity and a similar experience from one location to another for a multi-unit company.   

Customers aren’t seeking to engage with brands that have an identity crisis.

Customers aren’t seeking to engage with brands that have an identity crisis.

People in general like consistency, they want to rely on a brand to deliver the product or service with the same price, quality and experience each time.  

By following the “three C’s,” you will be armed with a visual communications recipie to ensure that the flavor of your brand is always consistent and fresh.