Six strategies to build brand recognition

Developing strong brand recognition should be an essential part of your business plan.  A strong brand helps you make a statement about your restaurant.  It should convey quality, consistency, familiarity and most importantly, trust.  Customers want to come into your restaurant knowing they will have a good experience because that’s what your brand tells them.

Brand Recognition

Good branding is more than just a catchy slogan or a memorable logo.  It’s about your entire business and culture.  But before you start thinking about writing a catchy slogan that will have millions of people singing your song, you need to take a step back and consider the following questions:

Where do you see your restaurant in the next five to 10 years?  Do you plan to franchise your restaurant?  What is your target market?  Where do you see yourself in the marketplace?  How do you differentiate yourself from the competition?  What promises do you want to make to customers about your restaurant?

After answering these questions, you will have a better sense of what type of brand you wish to establish for your operation.  A strong brand image will give your company added value, command higher prices, attract better employees, and most of all, bring you more money.  But it needs to be the right brand for the right audience.

1.  Be specific about your target market

Do not try to create a brand that appeals to everyone.  You will end up with a brand that is unclearly defined.  Target your brand to the specific demographics to which your restaurant appeals.  Is your neighbourhood more family-friendly or full of students?  Are you surrounded by busy, condo-dwelling urban professionals? Are there a lot of offices nearby?  Do you have a good lunch crowd? You need to cater your brand image to the right crowd.

2.  Create a positive perception of your brand name

Define your brand using as few words as possible, and drive your definition to your customers.  You should be able to tell potential customers exactly what to expect from your restaurant operation by stringing together a few key words like “homemade,” “comfort,” “stylish,” “elegant,” “fresh” or “fun.”  Just by reading key words, customers should be able to tell the type of establishment you run.

Brand Recognition

3.  Ensure brand consistency

Everything in your restaurant must convey what your brand wants to say, including the interior design and décor, menu, prices, food, drinks, uniforms, marketing, advertising, website and customer service.  Your brand has to be cohesive throughout your entire operation, and must reflect its desired image and vision.

Developing a powerful brand image involves the entire restaurant design from lighting and flooring, to compelling graphic images and menu boards.  Ensure everything is consistent in look, feel and colour. The different elements should have a recognizable style that is not only apparent inside your establishment, but also outside, online and in print.

4.  Deliver your brand promise

The most important element of branding is delivering what your brand promises.  For example, if you say lunch is served in under 30 minutes or it’s free, make sure you serve lunch in less than 30 minutes!  You need to gain the trust and loyalty of customers by standing by your brand name and what it offers.

5.  Don’t forget the power of POS materials

Signage and point-of-sales materials are critical to developing more instant recognition to your brand.  Use POS materials to highlight upcoming specials and promotions, but make sure your brand logo and slogan are featured prominently.  It is important to create visually stimulating materials so customers remember the images from your POS materials even after they leave your restaurant.

Brand Recognition

6.  Sell branded retail merchandise items

Once your brand is established, you can build on it by offering retail merchandise that features your brand name and slogan – especially if you have a particularly witty slogan with double meanings that can help you launch a successful T-shirt sales operation.

Other items to consider include cookies, glassware, candies, aprons or magnets.  The possibilities are endless.  Not only can you stand to make a tidy profit from sales of your merchandise, but it also acts as free advertising for your restaurant.


Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 30 years. She is recognized as one of the best restaurant consultants in Canada and the U.S. Diane is an industry leader in providing innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or or visit