KEY POINTS:
* In foodservice, branding is much more than just your name and logo — it encompasses the whole look, feel and ambience of your premises
* If planning on opening a chain or franchising your business, your brand design needs to be adaptable across multiple sites with differing requirements
* Existing operations can also benefit from a brand refresh or revitalisation
* Engaging a brand design consultant can assist you in identifying potential for improvements but requires significant capital outlay


EFFECTIVE BRANDING is imperative in differentiating your business from the competition and creating a distinctive identity that is eyecatching, appealing and memorable.
And when it comes to foodservice businesses, branding is much more than just your business name and logo — it encompasses the whole look, feel and ambience of your premises where customers come to eat.
Creating an effective brand identity involves looking at the various elements such as fitout, décor, furnishings, design of menu cards, how your staff are dressed — all these come together to create an overall impression of your business brand that will hopefully serve to entice customers through your doors and, once they’ve experienced your food and service, keep them coming back.
Brand identity is important when you’re operating just one site, but becomes an even more important consideration if you’re planning on opening a chain or franchising your business.
In those cases, you need to create a brand design and business concept that is adaptable enough to work across multiple sites, often with different sized rooms and back of house facilities. For example, you may want your pizza business to include not only a freestanding restaurant but also a tenancy in a shopping centre food court as well as a scaled-down takeaway operation. Identifying these goals in advance will inspire a different design approach than that employed for a standalone store.
Either way, you have to start with a core concept, and given the time and expertise required to develop this, you will likely need to employ specialised design and business fitout consultants. A switched-on consultant will know to ask you to specify what your future goals for expansion are, so these can be incorporated into the initial planning sessions.
While effective brand design is imperative for start-up foodservice businesses, your existing operation can also benefit from a brand identity refresh or revitaliation. Even if there are no obvious areas which could benefit from improvement, many food court proprietors are now mandating a design refresh every five years or so as a requirement of the lease — this ensures that the overall food court maintains a contemporary look as a drawcard for customers.
Engaging a brand design consultant can assist you in identifying the potential for improvements as they can take an objective look at your premises. Food presentation, menu, overall ambience and aesthetics, layout, lighting, signage and shopfront are all areas relevant to brand identity.
It’s a process that requires significant investment — you will probably need to be willing to allocate a budget of at least $40,000 to $50,000 in order to make it commercially viable to hire a design consultant.
It’s also important to make sure that your business has a point of difference which can be emphasised in your brand design. Good service and good food are givens, but these days you need more than that to stand out from the crowd. Specialising in a particular menu style (such as pizza!) and doing it well is one way to create this differentiation, rather than trying to cater to everyone’s tastes.
Menu at Da Vinci's Pizzeria, Summer Hill, Sydney
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