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Restaurant Branding 101

Restaurant branding reflects a business’s mission, communicates its identity, and creates a blueprint for the brand’s overall strategy. When done right, restaurant branding makes everything, from signage to social media, feel cohesive, consistent, and build an emotional connection with customers.

Building a Restaurant Brand

Building a brand can feel like an overwhelming task to restaurant owners who aren’t experienced in branding and marketing. In this blog post, we’ll go through some of the most important elements to consider when creating and implementing your restaurant's brand strategy.

Brand Voice

Present in almost every aspect of your business, the brand voice is one of the most important, yet least tangible, elements of your brand, setting the tone for your menu, differentiating you from competitors, and encouraging customers to come back for more.

Asking yourself some key questions about your restaurant is a great way to discover your brand voice.

  • Who are you?

  • What are you doing?

  • Why are you doing it?

  • What are your goals?

  • How will you accomplish your goals?

Whether you’re planning to open a rooftop cafe, wine bar, or sidewalk bistro, we’ve put together a guide to help you get cooking.

1. Create a Mission Statement

The bread and butter of a restaurant’s brand, the mission statement is a behind the scenes blueprint. A well thought out mission statement sets the foundation for your brand, provides insights into your business strategy, and guides most major decisions. Basically, your mission statement defines who you are and why you exist.

“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” ~ Starbucks

This mission statement not only reflects how the company keeps its business running, but in just a few short words, Starbucks communicates its goal for customers, employees, and the communities it serves. Though this mission statement is intentionally vague, making it applicable to future scenarios, it focuses on an inspiring, consistent and nurturing customer experience.

Once you have your mission statement spelled out, keep a hard copy posted somewhere that you and your team can easily see and refer back to. Businesses that remain true to their mission are more likely to succeed.

2. Devise a Brand Personality

Once you’ve written your mission statement, it’s time to bring your brand to life. The goal of an established brand personality is to shape the way people feel about your business and create an emotional connection. Customers are more likely to patronize a brand if its personality is in line with their own.

When developing your brand personality, start by telling your story. This will help differentiate you from competitors and give some context to who you are as a business. How did the idea for your restaurant come to life? Why did you decide to open a restaurant that serves a particular type of cuisine? How does your experience, heritage, and background fit into your brand's story?

An engaging back story grabs attention, elicits emotions, and helps develop trust.

3. Pick Location and Target Demographic

Like peanut butter and jelly, your target customer demographic and restaurant’s geographical location go hand-in-hand. So, before making any major business decisions, you’ll need to establish both. When developing your brand’s personality and writing your mission statement, who did you imagine walking through your doors?

One of the most common mistakes new restaurants make is trying to appeal to everyone. Just like cilantro, not everyone will like you. Instead of trying to please all the people all the time, prioritize a niche demographic that will most likely be drawn to your establishment.

Did you envision your restaurant becoming a meet-up location for young business professionals, a hot spot for GenZ singles, or a casual place for families?

Once you have a good idea of your target audience, you can begin scouting a location. If you’re targeting families, for example, choosing a location in the town corporate center probably doesn’t make sense. If professionals are your target audience, a suburban strip mall might not work either. Look for a location that will be conducive to your audience and convenient to your prospective customers.

Another important consideration when choosing a location is market saturation. Afterall, you wouldn’t want to open a sushi restaurant if there’s already two or three on the same block.

4. Plan the Menu

Next, it’s time to decide on the main ingredient: the menu. The element of your brand that your customers come into contact with more than anything else, the menu is often an ongoing process that requires a lot of trial and error. Acting as a reflection of your mission statement and brand personality, the goal of your menu is to appeal to your target audience. Instead of throwing a lot of balls in the air and seeing what sticks, create a menu that takes customers on a culinary journey and fosters an emotional connection. This includes both an online and physical menu.

5. Craft a Compelling Name

Whether you already have a name or you’re still brainstorming, your restaurant’s name should tell the story of your brand and communicate your mission statement to everyone who sees it.

Visual Brand Design

The visual brand design speaks even louder than words.

A restaurant’s overall visual identity is the cumulative effect of what your guests see, taste, smell, feel and hear at your restaurant and online so it’s important to make conscious, consistent branding choices.


A restaurant logo is one of the most important elements of a visual brand strategy. It should be recognizable, consistent, and complement your restaurant’s vibe. Your logo is the cornerstone of your visual brand, impacting every other visual branding decision you make so give it the time and careful consideration it deserves.


Typography includes the fonts and lettering, from your menu to your marketing materials, and should be consistent across all uses.

Choose typography that reflects your restaurant’s brand voice and customer base. An elegant script font, for example, may look out of place at a casual taco joint, while graffiti-style lettering, though funky and trendy, won’t work for an upscale French bistro.

Brand alignment, while important, isn’t everything when it comes to font selection. The font you choose must also be easy to read, or it will fail at its primary job – communication.

Color Palette

People are influenced by color on a subconscious level, so choosing colors that align with your brand’s personality and values is important.

The colors you use in your branding should be consistent throughout all your restaurant’s marketing materials, staff uniforms, and store interior.

Like typography, different color choices lend themselves to different restaurants. Whereas a brighter color palette might work for a casual burger joint, formal establishments might lean toward whites and neutrals. Beyond consistency, color is a personal choice and there are no hard-and-fast rules.


People eat with their eyes first so when it comes to branding, images are one of the most important components of a visual branding strategy.

Whether you use food photography on your physical menu, website, social media posts, or advertising, selecting the right images is a critical strategy when building a restaurant brand.

Where to Use Your Restaurant Branding

Once you’ve decided on all the elements of your brand, it’s time to put them to work.

Restaurant website

Considering a staggering 90% of consumers research a restaurant online before making a decision where to eat, your online presence is almost as significant as the food itself.

Here are a few guidelines to get you started:

  • Feature your brand colors in your website design.

  • Place your logo prominently.

  • Make it easy to find essential items like your menu, location, phone number, and hours of operation.


Successful restaurant branding touches every aspect of the diner experience. A unique, on-brand restaurant menu is an excellent tool for reinforcing your brand in guests’ minds. And a smart menu layout will encourage diners to order more.

Incorporate your brand colors, logo, and brand fonts for both your in-house and online menus. The consistent use of these visual assets across channels will strengthen brand awareness and build trust.

Interior Design

When guests walk into your restaurant, they want the reassurance of seeing a space consistent with the brand they’ve seen. They will feel misled if they walk into a space that doesn’t meet those expectations.

And first impressions matter. When deciding what to include in your restaurant decor, no decision should be left to chance. Your restaurant’s interior design should communicate your brand’s essence and deliver an experience that’s enjoyable, memorable, and worth sharing.


Branded merchandise is not only a great way to advertise your brand but selling the merch also adds an additional revenue stream. When members of your community wear or use your merch, it can serve as free marketing and add excitement around your brand.

Examples of Restaurant Merchandise

  • T-Shirts

  • Baseball Hats

  • Mugs

  • Bottle Openers

  • Beach Towels

  • Aprons

  • Pizza Cutter

  • Gift Bags

  • Totes

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By Eileen Strauss


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