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There are so many different factors that contribute to a potential customer’s decision to dine at your restaurant specifically. Simply having excellent food, and great service aren’t always enough to keep them coming back. Successful brands know their customers’ deepest desires and how to attract them. If you’re not there yet, don’t worry. We’re going to take a deep dive into the 5 most important areas of branding your restaurant to attract your ideal customer.

1) Stimulate Appetite Through Color

I want you to envision your favorite restaurant to eat at. Can you see their logo in your mind? Do you remember the colors used inside for the seating area? Chances are you may not remember these but your subconscious does. Allow me to explain: Certain colors evoke certain feelings in our minds without us noticing. For example, yellow is an appetite stimulant and usually associated with feeling full. When you see yellow, your brain actually secretes serotonin in anticipation of the meal you’re about to consume. Needless to say, yellow also makes you feel happy! Orange is known for making people feel comfortable and red actually increases heart rate and blood pressure which in turn increases hunger. There are also colors that suppress appetite as well, so you will want to make sure to do your research so you don’t accidentally push potential customers away through your branding!

2) Scent – The Nose KNOWS!

We all know those smells we come across that bring us right back to a particular day and time or make us feel a certain type of way the moment we inhale them. The smell of a freshly baked baguette may take you back to the time you went to Italy on vacation and may always make you feel happy and excited. On the other hand, the scent of steamed carrots may take you back to your childhood dinner table when you tried to casually feed them to the dog without anyone noticing. In the same way as color, scents also evoke feelings and trigger emotional responses. For example, the smell of vanilla from an ice cream shop or bakery is actually known to reduce stress and anxiety. Hello comfort food!

3) Set the Mood Through Lighting

The level of lighting in a space determines the mood or ambiance you want your guests to feel. There are three main types of lighting to keep in mind:

Ambient – low/dim lighting used to create an intimate and upscale feel typically used in bars or lounges, specifically where people are prone to sitting closer together.

Task – Highlighting areas of importance or to draw attention to certain areas. Task lighting can be used in places that are typically more dimly lit but will have enough light over the table to read the menu or to highlight a walkway.

Accent – Used to draw attention to specific areas or objects like art or fountains to create interest.

All three of these types of lighting can influence consumer behavior. A dimly lit atmosphere makes people feel comfortable and relaxed thus may entice them to dine longer, add on dessert and or coffee. On the other hand, a more brightly lit restaurant can keep people moving to maximize traffic for quicker service dining environments along with sometimes enticing them to eat more than they intended.

4) Acoustics – Be EAR-Isistable!

Noise level in a restaurant actually contributes to whether or not guests can properly taste and smell their food. Along with this, table linens, counter tops, ceiling height all play a role in creating a unique ambiance. Next time you dine at a restaurant, consider the noise level and pay close attention to how it makes you feel. Are you comforted by a louder environment where you know the table next you you can’t hear your conversation but you can hear your table just fine? On the other hand, if a restaurant is too quiet, it might make you feel like no one likes dining there and it’s not as popular thus influencing your decision to return before you even get your food.

5) Architecture – NAIL IT!

It’s not just about a good looking space inside and out. Like the previous four elements that contribute to restaurant branding, the design of the space is meant to be subtle and intentionally unnoticeable. So many restaurants fail because they do not know who they are as a brand. A restaurant owner must think about the operations and functionality of their dining space. How far is the bar from each table? How long does the server have to walk from kitchen to table? Everyone in the restaurant should feel like their needs are being met with ease. Combine all of this with complimentary decor that create the sort of acoustics that your ideal customer enjoys, you’re golden!

Now that you have the inside scoop on branding a restaurant, keep these points in mind when dining out. Take notes on your likes and dislikes and see if you can spot the subtle nuances that contribute to your experience as a guest. When you’re ready to start cooking up some ideas for your own restaurant brand, I’m happy to be your guide!