A Guide to Building Your Self-pour Restaurant/Bar Brand 101
If you have just added an element of self-pour fun to your business or you are about to, then you are on the right path to building your unique business personality. Besides just being different from other bars and restaurants around your town, you are also going to give your patrons the freedom to taste more drinks and cut their wait time while your beverage sales skyrocket!
First and foremost, in a highly competitive industry such as the hospitality field, it is crucial to go back to basics and understand two key components of any business before you do anything else.
Understand Your Customer
You need to know who do you want to attract and do so in their language and on their terms (speaking style, right platforms). This means you will need to study your crowd in detail. You should have your target market in mind the entire time throughout the process of building up your self-pour taproom or restaurant. It is important to know what your target market likes and what they care about because it will not only help you attract them to your establishment in the first place but it will also help you with bringing them back!
TIP: If you have already established a successful restaurant or bar, find out what it is that brings your regulars back and try to emphasize this even further with other customers or improve this point so it is even more obvious to others.
Understand Your Competition
It’s no secret that the restaurant industry is a very crowded and competitive space and you can’t underestimate other players on the market and know what they are doing.
If you are about to start your new adventure of becoming a restaurant or a bar owner, make sure to do thorough research and visit many other establishments, ideally taking notes of what to do and what not to do in order to serve your market better.
You can take two routes as an outcome of your visits to other establishments in your area. You can find a niche and do something completely unique which will set you apart from others or you can find out what your competitors do well (what works for them) and then execute that even better! Nevertheless, remember not to compare apples to pears, in other words, what works in New York City might not work in Colorado Spring.
Besides visiting your competitor’s establishments in person, you should check out their online presence on a regular basis to always make sure you are at least a step or two ahead of the game. If they copy you, don’t worry about it too much and just keep up your good game. This is just a sign that you are doing things right. However, you don’t want to be the one playing catch up with them. Branding and trends are always changing and you don’t want to sleep on laurels and let your competitors steal some of your sales.
Understanding your customers as well as your competitors is crucial and that is where your branding starts, but if you really want to build a strong brand, several other key elements need to come into place, which is why we decided to go into more depth and first cover the must-dos for building a strong restaurant brand.
Key Elements for Branding Your Bar/Restaurant 101
There are many touchpoints for your customers when they walk into your establishment: the outside area, the entrance, the menu, the bathrooms, and even the uniforms worn by your employees. All these spots should reflect your branding as it inevitably impacts how your customers are going to feel about the brand.
Your Message (Mission Statement)
When you get the hang of your competitors and their activity, you need to make sure to communicate a message that makes you different and stand out. This message is the foundation of your culture, environment, employees, and products you offer; your customers will be building a relationship with your brand based upon all these.
This goes without saying, but you should not communicate what everyone else is doing, because what is the point? Give the market a reason to remember you and think outside of the box! Whether it has to do something with special food trends, alcohol type you are offering, type of service, your employees, ambiance, simply anything that makes your business stand out. Self-pour beverage wall is certainly a great start but the more clearly you can define your brand and position it in a unique light, the better. Once when you have your mission statement, repeat this message over and over so it truly becomes a part of your brand.
TIP: Set up Google Alerts with relevant keywords that will notify you anytime when something new about your competitors pops up in an online world, also scan their social media and event calendar to stay ahead of the game.
A tagline is a great way to communicate your mission statement and differentiate your business both online and offline. Not only it is a great opportunity to communicate what your brand is about, but it will also help you with capturing your guests’ attention and retaining brand awareness.
The name of your bar or restaurant is often going to be the first impression your customers will get of your brand. If you don’t have your restaurant up and running yet, we recommend sitting down and brainstorming about your restaurant concept – from the feel of the restaurant you want the guests to experience, drinks and food you plan to serve, to the color scheme and style of the decoration you are planning to use. These keywords and key differentiators of your brand will guide you to find the most appropriate name.
It is a huge part of your branding and should really come from understanding your market. Are you serving younger and hipster crowd or are you trying to attract elderly upscale market? Just like many other core elements of your branding, the logo comes down to understanding your demographic and what is going to look well to them and match the rest of your business personality.
Signage & display outside
You don’t want to lose an opportunity to attract passersby to your business and want to make sure that your establishment is getting great exposure to people walking by. You also need to make sure your business is easy to find which appropriate signage and displays can certainly help with. Many restaurant owners realize this and choose locations in busy areas with big windows and really communicate their branding before the customers even get to their door. Your logo, tagline and ideally also a chalkboard with your special for the day/week is just a cherry on the top of the pie.
TIP: A good way to evaluate if your signage and displays are clear and good enough is by checking with your first-timers if it was easy for them to find you.
Storytelling is as old as time and for centuries people have loved listening to stories and passing them along, which is why you should share your story. Do you have a family-owned business or did you partner up with an old college friend? Whatever your story is, if it is interesting or if you can make it sound interesting, you must tell it!
TIP: If your story is really unique & cool, make it a core part of your branding so your guests can tell others when they are describing what your business is like. You can share your story on the coasters, menu, posters in the bathroom or anywhere else around your space.
In essence, with your core attributes, you should be able to answer basic questions such as who you are, what you are doing and why are you doing so? In order to define your brand’s voice, you should list the core attributes of your company which will help you understand the right direction for your communication with the customers. What you stand for, what you do better than others, etc. The core brand attributes will help you define the business in terms of its personality. It is just like describing a friend, only this time it is about your establishment.
TIP: Core attributes of your business should be highlighted on your website, social media as well as any promotional marketing you have on-site.
Once when you have a good understanding of your brand’s core attributes, it will be much easier to establish your brand’s voice. In essence, your brand voice is the type of communication you will use with the public. How you speak and interact with your prospective and existing customers is certainly a core part of your branding which is why it needs to be consistent from your menu and signs on-site to your communication online.
TIP: When developing your brand voice, just think of describing your business by choosing the most appropriate 3 – 5 adjectives and this will really help you set the core of your brand voice. We recommend putting these in a document that is accessible by anyone that has something to do with your business messaging (whether online or offline).
Color Palette & Fonts
This might sound like a no-brainer, but your color palette and fonts need to align with your logo, brand’s voice, and tagline. For example, if you are trying to reach Millenials crowd and your brand’s attributes are bold, upbeat, hipster and exciting, you don’t want to use gold and beige colors with some standard font because it would not go well with your brand’s personality.
Invest in the Right Employees
Your staff’s attitude can really make or break your brand. Their behavior strongly reflects in your establishment branding and oftentimes is a decisive factor for your guest’s return, which is why we definitely recommend investing in proper training. If you are messaging about how family-friendly your business is but then your waiter shows annoyed behavior when a child accidentally (or not) spills a cup of water, this is not going to get you too far.
Many customers of ours say that proper staff training and higher hourly wage pay off for their establishment in the long run. You should make sure your restaurant’s mission aligns with your employees’ characters and only hire people that can help you communicate the core message of your business in everything they do.
TIP: When it comes to branding your business through your employees, you can emphasize it by adding the right uniforms or creating guidelines for recommended attire.
Recommended Branding On-Premises
Glassware presents a great branding opportunity for any bar or restaurant as it allows your logo (and messaging) to become part of everyone’s experience pretty much throughout the entire visit. If done well, sometimes it also becomes a part of social media posts in so called user generated content (your customers taking photos of your establishment and branding and posting it on their social media). User-generated content is very powerful as it leads to your location getting more exposure online in front of the right audience and you always want to promote it.
Looking for a way to make extra money and get free advertising from your customers at the same time? Branded Merchandise will bring more than just that. Whether it is clothing or accessories, branded merchandise does wonders when it comes to building your brand recognition (other people getting exposed and familiar with your brand).
Branded Promotional Items
There is never harm in adding more branding around your space, so the simple rule goes that if it is within your budget, put your logo on it. From free balloons and reusable plastic cups for the kids to take home with them to reusable bags which will also help your position as an environmentally friendly business, you will certainly benefit from it if your branded promotional items “go home” with your guests.
Your signage must align with your mission statement and core attributes. They can help you communicate what your brand stands for and make the visit more memorable to your customers. If you have really funny, interesting or super visual signs such as the mural below, it will prompt people to take pictures with it and post on their social media, getting you some free advertising.
Menu & Coasters
They increase the visibility of your logo and your tagline throughout the entire customers visit. Menu and coasters are your space to play when it comes to standing out from the crowded market space.
TIP: With highly visual items such as food, we strongly recommend to include food and possibly also drink pictures in your menu. It will help your customers with decision making and overall the menu will look more visually appealing.
One might not realize how much ambiance has to do with branding, but it is another important element which has as big of an impact on customer’s visit as other key elements do. All your interior design and color scheme communicates message just as much as the logo, signs, menus or your employees do.
TIP: Don’t be afraid to experiment with music and lighting to really evoke the feel you want your guests to experience.
Now, even if you understand your market, have an amazing branding plan in place and own a self-pour beverage wall to stand out from your competitors, you should never really be done with your research and continue to bring new ideas to the table as you will need to adjust to the changing needs of the market. Remember the days when we all used to pay by cash are gone and so are the times when we thought that self-serve beers or wines were sci-fi. Since the market is always evolving, so should you and your business’s brand!
Finally, whether your customers learn about you through friends or they come for an event, having a perfect branding in place won’t be that helpful, if the on-site experience is not outstanding. The customers will not return and the new ones won’t be given reasons (whether an online review or word of mouth) to visit. Delivering excellent customer service and overall experience is a critical part of a positive customer journey and branding is just one component of the process. If you have any questions or feedback on our ideas, please get in touch with us!