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10 things to consider when designing your menu

By Morgan Musselle

- Last updated on GMT

10 things to consider when designing your menu
Morgan Musselle, senior creative designer at food branding agency Eat With Your Eyes, reveals how to design a killer menu

On a basic level, a menu shows a customer what food is on offer and at what price, but this is barely scratching the surface of what it can do. A menu holds much more power than that. It is the gateway into the identity, personality and value of a brand. By getting the menu right, in tone, language, design and appeal, it can be the key component in the decision-making process and can be the reason someone tries your offer or decides not to. A successfully engineered and designed menu will sell the dishes you want to (including your highest profit margin dishes), increase up spend across starters, mains and desserts, link and pair dishes to drinks which will drive drinks sales, and finally make the decision making process easy and quick for the customer.

Here are our top tips for brands looking to design or redesign a menu:

1. Cover design:

An intriguing grabline and striking image printed with a tactile finish makes people want to touch, pick up and flick through a menu – even if they’re not hungry. They may have only come in for a drink, but seeing a menu with a cover that intrigues and appeals could be the difference between a customer deciding to order food or going without.

2. The ‘box’:

Draw attention to certain choices by boxing them up, whether it’s because they’re new, local or high margin. The box is an effective and simple way of doing this without being too obtrusive. However, don’t go overboard. Too many boxes can look messy and confusing. Go easy and box one in eight choices.

3. Food photography:

Good food photography is an excellent way of showing off how fantastic a dish looks, especially if it’s exotic or creative. If you are opting for a menu that shows images of the food, it’s crucial you invest in a photographer who knows and understands your brand. Don’t over-egg the pudding though or guests may ask ‘why doesn’t my food look like it does in this picture?’

4. Pricing and currency symbols:

Removing currency symbols doesn’t mean cheapening your offer but it helps guests to think about the food rather than the cost. Price is undoubtedly a big factor in the decision-making process but we’ve found that taking away the price symbols gives a more modern and clean design.

5. Great descriptions:

It’s a menu, not a memory game. Avoid loading guests with the ‘burden of choice’. Consider a limited menu of a few dishes. Instead of crafting superfluous eye-candy, why not invent uniqueness and add value by creatively copywriting dish names and descriptions?

6. Drink pairings and discovery:

Demonstrate your knowledge by pairing food with premium drinks flavours. Guests collect and share eating experiences like badges of honour. Convince guests to spend a little more on something new and unusual, and they’ll thank you for helping them discover their new favourite.

7. Engaging language:

Think about the language you use when you speak to your customers. Use a tone of voice suited to the overall brand and dining experience to create engaging personality. Whether you’re being daft, serious, or seductive – be true to your brand.

8. Don’t forget the kids:

If you’re catering for families, don’t forget that a big part of the decision-making process will be customers looking for a menu that looks child-friendly and accommodating. You can have a lot of fun designing to kids (and big kids!) so make sure your offer stands out.   

9. Break the rules:

Sometimes it’s good to break the rules and forget about grids and columns. Be bold. Why not give burgers a whole page to themselves? Go crazy and see where being brave takes you.

10. Tell a story:

Whether you grow your own fruit or vegetables, have a brilliant chef, or use mamma’s recipe – no detail is too small for cooking up a story to get those taste buds tingling.

Eat With Your Eyes​ is a specialist food branding agency

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