This is a guest post by Joseph Szala, a restaurant branding expert based in Atlanta with more than 14 concepts and eight years under his belt. He recently published “Fire It Up: Building Restaurant Brands that Blaze,” blogs about restaurant branding daily at Invigor8 and consults under his company Vigor.
Everyone encounters a time in a restaurant’s life cycle when something needs to change. Things aren’t working anymore. The franchise becomes incorrigible. Maybe you’re just bored. No matter what the reason, you need to rebrand your restaurant concept. But, before jumping into the task of rebranding, there are a few things that need to be considered.
- How big of a bite will you take? Before jumping into the details, pin down how big of a project it’s going to be. Are you renaming and creating a completely new concept, or are you simply sprucing up the place? List your current brand touch points and assets including logo, website, menus, apparel and everywhere else your brand is encountered. Save this in a safe place.
- How much is this going to cost? With a formal understanding of the size of the project start ascertaining for each part of it. There is no right or wrong answer on how much you should invest, only that you should have a budget and do everything you can to stick to it.
- Who will design the brand? Sure, you can do it yourself, but finding a designer for the delicate task of developing your brand is a smart move. Look for firms that have experience in the restaurant industry. These firms will understand your needs more than others. If you’re a small place with a small budget, find a local freelancer with some restaurant work in his or her portfolio.
- Who will design your interiors? Your interiors, just like every touch point for your restaurant, add to your experience and brand. They should feature complementing colors to your logo and other brand elements. Locate an interior designer or small firm that knows the local codes well and has a number of restaurants under its belt.
- How will you market? Before you open your doors, plan out your marketing initiatives. Even if it’s a simple rebrand, you have to market your new look. You need to build awareness and buzz. There are no better tools than your current patrons and e-mail list. Before you close your doors, begin a teaser campaign with your current customers. Encourage them to follow you on Twitter and Facebook, subscribe to your e-mail list, and visit your website. Use your e-mail list to start marketing weeks before starting the project and plan an opening event within the first couple weeks of finishing the project.
Planning your rebranding initiative will help set the right budget. Select the right vendors for the job by doing some due diligence before hiring people from your general contractor to your branding firm. You have places you can cut costs like do-it-yourself construction and bartering arrangements, but you will have to invest money and this will be money well invested. Most importantly, get excited and maintain your passion, this is going to a fun journey. There’s nothing like opening your restaurant with a fresh face and new beginning.
Share your rebranding stories in the comments.
SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in Restaurant SmartBrief — tracks feedback from restaurant owners and managers about trends and issues.
Last week’s poll question: Has your restaurant rebranded?
59.65% — No, my restaurant has not rebranded.
29.82% — Yes, my restaurant has been rebranded.
10.53% — No, but my restaurant has considered rebranding.