BusinessDictionary.com defines brand overall as “creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors. Over time, this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumer's mind. Thus brands help harried consumers in the crowded and complex marketplace, by standing for certain benefits and values.”
In simple terms, your brand is a promise to guests that your product and service is unique and readily identifiable, supported by demonstrated behavior, and executed by your team. As Gordon Food Service® Marketing Manager Lindsay Broveleit explains it, “You have to make your customers understand that you have something they want; then you have to deliver that something every day and every way.”
Every day and every way means the overall experience your customers have in relation to every touchpoint of your restaurant, including your menu. Your menu communicates the intent of your brand, and that underscores the importance of having a good grasp of your brand before diving into menu development or modification.
Businesses that win at branding ensure that their perception in the marketplace matches their intended reality. For example, you want to be known as a high-end Italian eatery, but you’re recognized as the best pizza place in town. There’s a clear gap between what you think your brand is, and what customers understand it to be. You can identify these gaps by evaluating your brand against these statements:
As noted in the definition, the “harried marketplace” in which guests make their decisions drive the necessity of a clearly defined brand, especially in an era of market-share erosion. Since 2008, NPD reports that full-service restaurants have seen an average loss of three dining incidences per year. People are still eating—they are simply consuming elsewhere. Ensuring that your brand is well-recognizable, from your menu on, is the first line of defense against further loss of your market share.
A McKenzie study points out that roughly 70 percent of all recommendations for buying experiences are first filtered by recommendations from friends and families. If who and what you are cannot be easily conveyed through the experiences you offer, which includes the items on your menu, your brand will flounder, and so will your business.
On the flip side of that, having those roughly 70 percent aligned to your brand creates advocacy, which can drive frequency and loyalty. So clearly defining your unique offering is a key component to increasing repeat diners, growing your base of regular customers, and boosting word-of-mouth foot traffic. And that distinction comes directly from your brand, comes to life through your menu, and is the driving force behind all of your other touch points.
The good news is that the power of your brand is in your hands. The key is to understand it before wielding it.
We’ve put together a brand worksheet to help you understand how well your menu relates to your brand.
Contact a Customer Development Specialist if you’d like to talk more about the strength of your brand as it relates to your menu.