The food is delicious and you have a nice amount of customers including a few regulars. Every month the bills are paid. The staff seems relatively happy.
But, something is missing.
If someone were to ask you how to describe your restaurant, would you talk about the food, location and the hours of operation? If so, I think I know what’s missing.
It’s your brand personality.
You might be asking, what is a brand personality? Just like you can be described as more than a male or female human being with certain physical attributes, so can your restaurant’s brand. For example, I could introduce Jane in two ways.
1. This is Jane, she has brown hair and blue eyes and she is 5’6”
2. This is Jane! She is friendly, smart, funny, athletic and spontaneous. She has been known to buy a last minute airplane ticket to a random city and take a 36-hour vacation. She is an entrepreneur and devours business books on her downtime. She runs five miles a day. She loves to try new restaurants, but she really loves her Tuesday nights at her favorite sushi place.
Who are you more interested in learning more about? Which person would you know (or not know) that you might become good friends with?
With a clearer understanding of who someone is, it is easier to know if this is someone you might like to spend a lot of time with. The same is true for your restaurant. No brand personality means you’re just another restaurant.
Why does a brand have a personality?
A brand is made up of many parts, but personality is one of the main ingredients. Having a brand personality allows your restaurant to stand apart from the competition and can boost name recognition. Your brand and its personality creates an expectation for the dining experience and attracts customers who are looking for what you offer. The brand personality also becomes infused into everything that you do. It will be reflected in the customer experience, in your employees, in your food, in your ambiance, in your logo and tagline and in your marketing messaging.
There are three main benefits to having a brand personality.
1. Memorable – just like Jane up there, having a distinct personality makes your restaurant stand out. In your hometown, how many options do people have when it comes to deciding where to eat? I’ll bet it is more than one. If you have something to offer besides great food, people will remember you and will have something to tell their friends. They will also recall and choose your restaurant when they are looking for what you offer – including the personality and experience.
2. Connection – I’ll go back to Jane, if she meets someone who has a similar personality, sense of humor and interests, it is highly likely that they will hit it off and become friends. The old saying “birds of a feather flock together” works in branding. People who self-identify with your brand personality, will likely become customers. Also, your brand personality will attract employees for whom your brand personality is a fit.
3. Relationships – suppose you have a handful of repeat customers at your restaurant. You have probably gotten to know a bit about them over the years and you probably value their business. If you develop a brand personality that people self-identify with, then they probably also like your messaging and values. Over time, you build relationships and trust with these customers who might also build a community around your restaurant. When you have a community that supports your business, your chances of success multiply greatly.
Any person or any business can benefit from having a brand personality. This includes your restaurant.
As an example, let’s use Moe’s Southwestern Grill since they are an almost nationwide brand that you might know. There are many options for fast-food and even more restaurants that serve tacos, quesadillas and burritos. On the left, is a restaurant with no brand personality. It just blends in. On the right, is Moe’s. They have crafted a very strong personality that goes into many of the restaurant’s touch points and the customer experience. Moe’s is friendly and welcoming. Employees shout, “Welcome to Moe’s!” when guests walk in. They are fresh and fun – the ingredients are fresh and organic and the décor is bright. They are quirky – the menu has several obscure names from movie characters, TV and pop-culture references. The personality makes Moe’s stand out from the competition, it makes the restaurant memorable and it creates an expectation and experience for the customers. They have experienced great growth in revenues, profits and number of stores.
If you feel that your brand could use a little more personality, here are five steps to create one:
1. Your personality. If you are the restaurant founder and/or owner, what is your personality? Are there qualities of yours that you might bring into the restaurant’s brand personality. Here are a few examples of personality traits. Search “words for personality traits” to get full lists.
2. Ideal Customers. What kinds of people do you want visiting your restaurant whether they are in town visiting or your regulars – what are their personalities? Remember like attracts like.
3. Aspirational. Is there a brand personality you would like to create? If this is the case then the sky is the limit. Imagine what you would like your customers to think about when they hear your restaurant’s name or drive by your location.
4. Themes. Does your restaurant have a theme that could be translated into a personality? For example, if your theme is farm-to-table, your personality might include traits like: fresh, laid-back and casual, friendly, local, communal and smart (educating people about the food they are eating). Or, if your restaurant is a fine-dining experience your personality may be sophisticated, sleek, smart, mysterious (a bit exclusive) and formal.
5. Current personality. Ask current people who know of your restaurant to describe its personality. Sometimes the marketplace has a personality in mind already. If so, is there anything you can work with there? Anything you can’t stand and want to work to change?
Remember, not matter what you choose as your brand’s personality, make sure that it is one that you can live up to and makes sense for your restaurant. For example a fast-casual restaurant will probably not be able to pull-off “sophisticated.” Also, take your personality and infuse it into your customer experience and touchpoints and remember to be consistent.
You might be thinking that all of this brand personality makes sense for a person but not for a restaurant and that you’re not sure if all the time and effort you spend into building a personality will make an impact on your bottom line.
Yes, it takes time to build your brand’s personality, but once you do, you will set your restaurant apart from the competition, attract customers that like love your brand, create relationships, employ people who enjoy their work and build a sense of community with your customers. All of these benefits add to the bottom line. Recall the example of Moe’s above – it worked for them.
Failing to develop your brand’s personality will put your restaurant in a sea of sameness. There will be nothing that compels people to try dining with you and to come back. They will have nothing to tell their friends about what made your restaurant truly special and memorable. With some creative thinking and a little hard work and consistency you can build your personality and shine.
Does your brand have a great personality? Can you describe your favorite restaurant’s personality? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.