How to Position and Brand Your Restaurant

branding your restaurant

Posted: Mar. 12, 2018

Positioning is the strategic step of defining your restaurant’s concept and target audience while also differentiating yourself from the competition.

In the Lavu blog, we frequently suggest diverse ways of setting your restaurant apart from the competition, such as with world-class customer service, gift cards, or an intuitive restaurant point-of-sale system. These ideas have the power to boost your sales and reputation, but for long-term success, you need to know exactly what makes your restaurant tick and how it’s different.

Below, see why brand positioning is so important and how to get started.

Articulate How You’re Different from the Others

When you run a restaurant, whether it’s a craft beer brewery, ice cream store, or coffee shop, it’s important to understand why you’re different from competitors and to be able to say it succinctly.

Through the strategic act of positioning, not only do you determine exactly how you’re unique, you also define your core concept and target audience. These are the three main points to nail down to position your brand in the market:

  • Define what you do: What type of coffee do you brew? What is your concept?
  • Define who you are in business to serve: Which types of customers do you want at your restaurant? What are their desires? Why do they need your restaurant to exist?
  • Define how you are unique from the competition: This is not about how you are better, but how you are different.

To kick-start your positioning process, create a long and detailed list of questions for each section above. As an example, let’s focus on the third point. Use the following questions to analyze your competitors and where your restaurant falls in the dining spectrum. When you bring your answers together, new opportunities might reveal themselves.

  • Are they new or established businesses?
  • What’s their concept?
  • What are their price points?
  • If you’re an ice cream parlor, brewery, or winery: Do your competitors produce small batches or is the production on a larger scale?
  • Do they offer delivery or take-out services?
  • Are they using new restaurant technology or relying on traditional methods?
  • What type of food or drinks are they known for?
  • How involved are your competitors in the community?
  • Do they have a wide-reaching marketing campaign?
  • What types of customers frequent their business?
  • What times of day are they the busiest?

When combined, the answers to these questions might illuminate untapped areas of opportunity that your business can focus on. More importantly, they should illuminate what makes you different. Successful positioning includes highlighting activities, prices, concepts, and more that the competition isn’t doing or doesn’t have.

Brand Your Restaurant in a Way that Clearly Positions It

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The restaurant industry is thriving and becoming increasingly saturated. Craft beer breweries have picked up steam, whereas wineries have the luxury of being in an emerging market and can rely on the quality of their product to bring in crowds.

For most businesses in the bar and restaurant industry though, it’s critical to differentiate themselves in other ways. Because the competition has simply gotten to be too good, a business needs creative branding and positioning, too.

Define Your Concept and Story

Serving great food or cocktails doesn’t cut it anymore. With a plethora of excellent, high-quality establishments for customers to choose from, what makes your business special? Without a doubt, you have a compelling story to tell. Tell customers the how, why, and who of your concept to position yourselves in the market.

  • Who were the founders?
  • Who is cooking the food or brewing the beer?
  • Why is your menu special?
  • Why does your restaurant matter?
  • How do you run your business?
  • Why did you choose this particular ambiance and interior design?
  • How did you decide on pricing?

Defining the details of your operations is the first step to creating a brand that rings true with customers, and that sets you apart from the competition. With the answers, you have a collage of ideas that inform your overall business concept and is bound to be creative and different.

Grow Your Business Community

A great location is excellent for driving new business, but in 2018, so is your business community. The individuals, farms, and businesses that you choose to work with inside the community create unmatched connections. Customers like supporting businesses that are supporting the local economy, and there are limitless ways to do that. Here are some ideas:

  • Coffee shops can source baked goods from a local bakery or pastry shop. In turn, these places serve your coffee.
  • Breweries sell their bottles or cans to restaurants. It’s always smart to get your beer into a restaurant that serves to a similar audience. In this way, you solidify your identity and position yourself as a leading business for this target group. It’s also smart to connect with unlikely restaurants to get your beer in front of new audiences and grow your customer base.
  • Pizza shops can source fresh produce and cheese from local farmers.
  • Ice cream shops can source from local dairy farms, as well as supply restaurants and delicatessen shops with pints of ice cream.

To find new connections, take advantage of your geography. Every region has a special gift to show off, and there’s no better place than on your menu. For the purposes of your brand, you position your business as a supporter of the local economy. This kind of commitment reveals core values that deeply resonate with today’s consumer. 

Now Use Branding Materials to Support Your Positioning

The qualities that make your restaurant unique, your target audience, and your core values are the foundations for strong branding. Business owners tend to think about their branding visuals before positioning themselves against competitors, and the branding loses some of its impact because of it. Although branding is made through visual tools, every color, scribble, and logo should have some meaning behind them.

With a deep understanding of your restaurant, you can create a compelling visual identity that speaks volumes and resonates with customers. If you are opening a new business, take the time to establish your positioning now so you don’t have to backtrack later.

Last tip on positioning: Restaurants are seeing huge success with telling the menu’s background story.


Posted: Mar. 12, 2018 | Written By: Emma Alois

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