1. Determine where your brand currently stands
Before you make any changes, you need to determine how your restaurant is currently performing. What are you doing well, and what could be improved upon? The first thing you need to do is analyse your takings and see what they can tell you about your business. For example, do people tend to spend more on food or drink? Are there any dishes you offer, or events you host, that are particularly popular? You can also carry out research by talking to family, friends, staff and customers. Ask them what they think of how your restaurant is running, and what they like about other establishments that they visit. This should give you a basic idea of the areas you should focus on during your rebrand.
2. Collect and use your history
If your business has existed for a while, you’re sitting on a goldmine; some companies pay marketing agencies thousands of pounds to create a realistic and engaging back story for them. If possible and appropriate, you should gather as much of your company’s history as possible and scatter it throughout your branding and marketing. Website traffic company Quicksprout talks about telling a brand’s story in its beginner’s guide to online marketing. In it, it says that you should be able to explain why your company came to be and why your customers should see value in this. For example, if your business is family-run, you might want to highlight that your venue has a cosy feel to it, and your customers will be treated like a friend. Whatever your business’ background, you need to let potential visitors know how it will benefit them.
3. Take inspiration from your competitors
When you’re thinking about rebranding, it’s important to pay attention to what your competitors might be doing better than you. Visit their establishments to see what their staff are like, what they have on their menu, and what kind of drinks they offer. You should also look at how they market themselves, either through traditional channels like in magazines, or online with their own social media accounts. Restaurant marketing company Forketers offers a guide to restaurant competitor analysis, which explains how you can take and use ideas from other restaurants. However, it’s important not to copy the things others do but simply use them as inspiration instead.
4. Give your interior design an overhaul
If you want to rebrand your restaurant properly, it’s going to need a new look — especially if you haven’t given your interior a redesign since you opened. In fact, a lot of long-running, successful restaurants overhaul their venue’s interior whenever it starts to look tired, regardless of whether they’re rebranding. You should be able to use your company’s history and competitor research to inform your interior design plans. Decide what you would like the general vibe of your restaurant to be — for example, are you going to opt for a modern or rustic décor? Ideally, your preferred style should be reflected in everything from your shop front to the toilets. You also need to consider aspects such as how many tables you’re going to have, and what music you plan to play. All of this will come together to create the overall look and feel of your restaurant.
5. Use social media to engage and respond
If you aren’t already using social media to market your restaurant, rebranding will offer you the perfect opportunity to start. There are more than 200 million posts tagged #food and 23 million tagged with #drinks on Instagram, according to SproutSocial. People are obsessed with sharing what they eat online, and it’s likely that your customers are already doing this. According to SproutSocial, 88% of people are influenced by online posts they see about restaurants. Therefore, if you want more people to hear about your restaurant, you need to be shouting about it online. You can use social media websites like Facebook and Twitter to give people basic information, such as your opening times and address. If you’re launching a new menu, sharing photos of your best dishes is also likely to entice people. Finally, engage with and respond to your online followers. If someone posts a lovely review of your food, thank them for coming. Or, if someone takes to the internet to complain about your restaurant, respond quickly, professionally and in a way that will reaffirm that person’s faith in your establishment.
6. Host an unveiling event
It’s important that you reopen your restaurant with a bang, and the best way to do this is by organising an unveiling event. Planning this in advance will allow you to drum up interest and let everyone know that you’ll be returning with a new look. Choosing a date that will appeal to your clientele is vital. Check your community’s public calendar and pick an evening that won’t clash with a big event in your area. You might also want to avoid days when you’ll be competing against national sporting events or music festivals. It’s likely that your restaurant will get incredibly busy on opening night. Therefore, you might not want to make your entire menu available straight away — especially as this will probably be your kitchen team’s first chance to make your new dishes for customers. Instead, consider offering a small number of your best dishes (and don’t forget to include at least one vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free option).
Mark Hardman is marketing manager at Alliance Online