branding agency owner amy dennis
Written by Amy Dennis
CEO | Creative Director

Restaurant Marketing | Making a Connection with Customers

Nice Branding Agency is a restaurant marketing firm with offices in Nashville, Tennessee and Lakeland, Florida. Our team of restaurant marketing experts are breaking down the basics of connecting with restaurant customers to keep them coming back for more. Keep reading for our top tips on building a repeating customer base.

First connections with customers are typically made away from the restaurant, through online restaurant marketing efforts such as social media posts and online advertisements. However, there are many other opportunities for connections within the four walls of your restaurant. If done well, your restaurant marketing can be a huge success attracting others to your brand. Want proof? Read our write up for Holler & Dash for a stellar example.

Restaurant Marketing: Start Here

First things first, if you’re not up to speed with restaurant branding, we wrote you a quick guide for reference. It’s important that restaurant owners understand that a brand is not just a logo and a menu, but instead it’s everything that the customer may come in contact with during their experience. Read up and make sure you understand what a brand is, because it could make or break your restaurant in the long run.

To be able to define where the connections are, it’s best to start by mapping out the customer journey. We need to address the customer’s path from the time they pull into the parking lot or approach the entrance, to the time that the customer walks out the door to leave.

Once you’ve mapped out your customer journey, you need to pinpoint opportunities for connection.

If you are a fast-casual concept, immediately after the guest enters the restaurant, there should be a connection indicating where they can find your menu offerings as well as where they should place their order.

Between the entrance and where the customer places their order, there are opportunities for signage and environmental branding. This can come in the form of wall or floor graphics where you can speak to your customer directly through your established brand voice.

restaurant marketing

Typically at the point of sale (POS), there is counter space to display messages or promotions that will interest the customer. Your rewards program, your social handles or special offers on menu items should all be front and center.

restaurant marketing

Restaurant Marketing: Employee Attire

An often overlooked opportunity in your space is employee attire. Nine times out of 10, an employee is verbally taking the order from a customer. So, you can align your employee with your brand direction through t-shirt design. And then voila! Customer interactions that vastly improved through a predefined message.

restaurant marketing attire

Your employee’s voice can emulate the brand voice.

Your restaurant’s t-shirt design is a great opportunity to display messaging. It can serve as a mini-billboard walking throughout your restaurant.

restaurant marketing

If you’re a restaurant that offers a paper receipt, then that is also a customer touchpoint. Although it is a small connection, it still has the opportunity to impact the customer.

Restaurant Marketing: The Menus

The most commonly addressed customer touch points are menus and menu boards. However, you can take them to a deeper connection through creative strategy and copywriting. Being certain that your menu descriptions and menu item names align with your brand voice will continue to drive your brand direction to the customer.

If your brand is more fun, you can add cheeky little sayings and brand phrases to fill space on a menu. So, add brand tag lines or blurbs that align with your brand direction to your menu. Including these, as opposed to just the name of menu items, can create a deeper connection with the customer as they peruse your menu.

restaurant marketing menu design

Your serviceware, including cutlery, napkins, plates, trays, and cups all need to align with the feeling of your brand. Cups are a great opportunity to once again speak to the customer directly. Each cup is literally in the hand of every customer.

restaurant marketing cup design

The drink station is also a great place to display signage. These signs should contain strong verbiage and images because they are very likely to be viewed by all of your customers.

Restaurant Marketing: The Dining Area

Next on the customer journey, the customer will begin to enter the dining area, where a whole world of possibilities for connection exists.

From furniture to wall color, textures and lighting, the customer should be able to put together what your brand is from your dining area.

restaurant marketing interior design

This is an important space as this is where the customer sits and experiences eating at your restaurant. When they remember being at your restaurant, this is likely the part of their experience that will come to mind.

If you’re weak in the interior design of the space, then you’re missing a huge opportunity on the restaurant marketing front.

How food is prepared, served and displayed are also opportunities to sway your customers (or not) toward the opinion that you want them to form.

restaurant marketing

There are definitely additional opportunities for restaurant marketing within the walls of your restaurant. In our review of the Grilled Cheeserie, we highlighted a lot of these opportunities and potential pitfalls for restaurants.

Some of the customer touch points we incorporate are table tents, order numbers, window and door graphics, exterior signage and more. These also should be considered as they will play a big role in the impact of the brand on guests.

As one of the top restaurant marketing firms in the nation, the Nice Branding Agency team is chock full of restaurant branding experts. We know how to get it right and are available to help you get it right in your restaurant. Let’s talk.


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