The F&B business has one of the highest failure rates among all start-ups in the first year of operation. If you are a novice restaurateur, it is all the more important for you to keep asking yourself why you are launching a new concept, why you are entering a market, who your customers are, and how you can entice them with a new cuisine or experience. Your analysis should answer the fundamental question: why are you starting a restaurant?

If you don’t differentiate your business from the rest of the market and communicate your message clearly to your customers, don’t expect them to show interest in your concept. In other words, if there’s no scope for differentiation, I’d advise you to reconsider your business plans and investments.

Branding, communication, and design can get people to your restaurant. The food, experience, and service bring them back, again and again. For entrepreneurs ready with a cuisine or restaurant concept, branding is crucial in making the first impression with potential customers. A product with a unique name and image can be hugely influential in attracting customers initially.

A globally successful brand may not be able to replicate the success in the Middle East. Home-grown brands can compete with multinational brands because they have the advantage of understanding the pulse of their local markets, specific customer requirements, and responding to them quickly. It helps that consumers have sentiments attached around home-grown brands. If the value of a brand is communicated well, consumers will welcome the brands with open arms.

Branding is more than a name and logo

The name and tagline should convey what you do, and the logo should express what you do.  A static logo does not express anything. When used in combination with other visual elements, a logo becomes a symbol of your promise to your customers. However, creating and finalizing a logo should not be about personal choices; it should be an objective decision-making process aimed at selecting the best options to support the unique selling proposition of the brand, including choice of colours, fonts, and phonetics.

Branding is your expression and emotional connection with your consumer through visual elements. It maps all possible consumer decisions and touchpoints in order to engage with them outside and inside the restaurant.

Branding takes into account the overall experience of the customer and aims to make the customer fall in love with your place. It should highlight your restaurant’s strengths and communicate your concept differentiation clearly, whether it is the menu, restaurant format, food packaging, staff interaction and response time, food delivery time, and cleanliness.

Once the look and feel of the restaurant is finalized, they should be reflected in the signage, lighting, music, furniture, staff attire, and marketing collateral with consistency.

The comfort levels of the furniture in your restaurant should depend on how much time you expect your customers to spend in your restaurant. Lighting and mirrors give the illusion of space. If rent is a concern, you must accommodate as many diners as possible without making it uncomfortable to move around. Be flexible enough to rearrange seating from time to time depending on customer behaviour.

Rebrand to stay relevant

Forward thinking entrepreneurs anticipate market conditions, competition, and consumer tastes, which drives them to stay ahead of the curve. Rebranding is necessary to stay relevant in the mind of your customers. It need not require a huge investment and can be done in several phases. Furthermore, it could be subtle that the customer may not notice the changes.

It is important to study your local customer preferences thoroughly and take them into account while rebranding, because a cookie-cutter approach is likely to fail in the long run.  Also, remember that customers don’t like change if they’ve become attached to a brand. How do you when’s the right time to change the name or logo or both. If the name has greater affinity and recall value with the customer, then your brand is ready for a logo change.