rethinking brand3 questions to ask first (and 3 easy makeover solutions)

Let me ask you a question.

When you hear the word “brand,” what do you think it means?

Marketing tactics?

Sure, these all play a part in branding.

But, in fact, branding is much more than just these items.

I like to say branding is what people think, feel and expect whenever they interact with your company.
Branding is an overarching image.

It’s ingrained in everything you do—your operations, your message, all your touch points and your marketing.

It’s the DNA of the company.

When a company is thinking of rebranding itself, it can feel quite overwhelming.

So before you dive deep into the world of rebranding, it’s important to ask three questions first to determine where your brand currently stands.

Based on your answers, you can take a few simple steps to start bringing your restaurant’s brand into alignment.

3 Questions to Ask Before a Major Rebranding

#1. Why do we think we need to rebrand our restaurant? 
Sometimes in business, there are buzzwords that come up or certain initiatives that are the next top thing in management. If you’re working on building your restaurant and see that branding is coming up a lot in articles or you’re reading about other restaurants that have gone through rebranding, it might make you think, “Oh, that’s something we need to do too.”

But you need to look beyond that and ask some additional questions about why you think you need to work on your restaurant’s brand.

#2. Are customers confused about our restaurant’s brand?
If you’re talking to a customer about what food, beverages, hours of operation or special events you offer and the person says, “I didn’t know that you did that” or customers aren’t sure they’ll enjoy your offerings—that’s a sure sign your brand is not focused on a specific target or niche and isn’t communicating it’s offerings well and needs work. It might be time to revisit your restaurant’s brand foundation and work on your clarify your offerings and your messaging.

#3. Are we constantly lowering our prices?
One of the benefits of having a strong brand is that you can charge a premium for your food, beverages and other offerings. If you find that your branding is unclear, your restaurant will blend in with every other dining option nearby, and the only way to attract new business is to reduce prices, lose money or use coupons, then those are signs that your brand is probably in trouble.

One way to start correcting this situation is to look at the restaurants and dining options that you’re competing against—who are you trying to beat on price? Look for ways that you can differentiate your restaurant’s offerings or your customer experience so that you can start to move up the chain to a more premium, differentiated brand.

It can be as simple as tweaking and streamlining your menu offering to attract a specific kind of customer. For example, you could develop a fast, fresh lunch special that you market to local businesses. Pick a fun name for the special like “Healthy snap.” You can promise to serve customers a healthy lunch that’s less than 400 calories in less than 30 minutes for $7.00.

What if your restaurant isn’t ready to undergo a major rebranding effort?

What if you don’t want to dedicate time and money to overhauling your brand right now? What can you do to start aligning your brand with your offerings with minimal time, money and effort?

In this case, you can do three simple things to give your brand a spruce-up. 

1. Conduct your own brand evaluation
Part of branding is reflected in what I call your “touchpoints.” A touch point is any way a customer or a potential customer interacts with you.

Take a look at all your touch points—especially anything online—website, Twitter, Facebook, etc. See if everything is consistent across all platforms. Also check whether they look different from your competitive landscape or you blend in with everybody else online.

Download our Brand touch point checklist here 

Brand touchpoints

2. Discover what customers are saying about you
When we build a brand, we’re putting an image out to the marketplace. That image is reflected to us by customer feedback. See whether what you think you’re projecting is what customers think, feel and expect.

Check reviews or comment sections such as Yelp or Google Reviews, TripAdvisor or Urbanspoon, or places that are relevant to your restaurant.

If part of your brand is “the best customer service” and you’re reading lots of customer reviews that say it’s the worst experience they’ve ever had, then something is not right with your brand.

3. Take a random sampling of what employees think your brand means
Your employees are your brand ambassadors, so they need to live and breathe your brand. They need to understand what your brand is. Here’s how to find out whether employees reflect your brand.

Ask your employees to tell you what the restaurant brand stands for. Ask them to give it to you in one or two sentences.

If they can’t understand what the brand is (or what you would like it to be), then you probably have room for improvement of your brand.

Your brand is something that you constantly need to monitor, protect and revamp if necessary.

If you have an inkling that something might be off with your brand, there are steps that you can certainly take on your own to see whether the brand is on track or needs some improvement. Then, after doing some investigation on your own, it might be time to call in a professional.

Do you a question for us? We’d love to answer it here on the blog. You can email us jring[at]restaurantbrandingroadmap[dot]com or reach us on our Facebook page or Tweet to us.

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Jocelyn Ring is co-founder of Brain Tattoo Publishing and is a branding and business strategist, entrepreneur and visual facilitator. Learn more about The Ring Effect.