Restaurant Development & Design


restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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6 4 • R E S T A U R A N T D E V E L O P M E N T + D E S I G N • W I N T E R 2 0 1 4 Branding Initiatives R estaurant branding initiatives can originate from a variety of areas for countless reasons. If a concept has a large collection of dated assets, meaning older restaurants in need of a refresh, the impetus could come from the operations or real estate team. An economic shift or change in the competitive landscape could prompt the c-suite or marketing group to call for a branding initiative. Regardless as to why a concept launches a branding initiative, compa- nies typically approach such efforts in one of four ways: handling it internally, having the ad agency lead the project, hiring a strategy frm or engaging a multi-disciplinary frm to handle the project from start to fnish. Regardless of which path a concept takes, the project team should weigh a handful of considerations. We caught up with a pair of branding pros, Tre Musco, CEO and chief creative offcer for Tesser, and Brian Shafey, president and chief creative offcer for Chute Gerdeman, who shared their perspectives. Understand the internal team's capabilities and capacity. "We see a lot of success from position- ing developed internally when you have a staff that's got the time to do it. But this is usually not part of someone's typical role and responsibilities," Musco says. "This will take a big chunk of their day, but this can be very successful because they know the brand so well." In the event a company elects to work with an outside partner, such as a strategy frm or a multi-disciplinary agency, Musco encourages choosing one that does work in the same category the restaurant serves to minimize time spent bringing them up-to-speed on your business. "Compared to other retail businesses, restaurants are unique in that they are full-blown manufacturing opera- tions attached to glamorous showrooms," he says. "You have to understand how the manufacturing area works with the customer experience area. Plus, you have food which gets dropped, spilled and splattered. Shoes don't do that." Measure twice, cut once. "Invest good time up front thinking about the project," Musco advises. "The more you understand what you are trying to resolve the better chance of success you have. The more you talk to the consumers, executive team and even the franchisees, the better. All of those different inputs can give you great direction. Anyone can draw you pretty pictures, but what you need is informa- tion that will help you move the needle." Restaurants need to know their customers, including how they think and behave. "How customers choose a restaurant today is fundamentally dif- ferent from how they did it in the past," Shafey says. "They have a lot of tools to use when deciding where to eat out. The key is to be top of mind and any branding exercise should address that." There are a variety of ways to get to know what they are thinking, including customer comment cards, surveys and more. "Branding services companies can help get customer input and dig a little deeper to fnd out what customers' lives are like outside of the restaurant and understanding the competition, includ- ing where the opportunities are. Where customers choose to dine and spend their time is part of their identity." Shafey recommends developing an advisory team of the restaurant's best and most insightful store staff. "Those front- line people know the customer intimately well. Top executives can learn a lot being in direct communication with the people working in their stores," he says. "And the staff has to be a part of the process because they will ultimately personify it at the store level. How they play their roles can make or break a process. Have them review designs, ideas and even con- cepts. It really does make a difference. And they can help get the word out in the organization that something exciting is going to happen and they are happy to be a part of it." Go beyond cosmetics to encapsulate the entire customer experience. By thinking of the branding initiative as something that's only a cosmetic exercise restaurants miss the opportunity to re- connect with their customers. Branding initiatives need to balance form and function in order to achieve the desired impact. "Success comes in the seamless quality of your customers' experience. It starts from the view outside to the tone of your employees' voices to the in-store components," Shafey says. "A lot of res- taurants are designed from an operational standpoint and that can overshadow the experience. Just because you have to keep it clean does not mean you should strip away all of the character." Think long and short term. Using the data collected from custom- ers and staff as the foundation of a plan it's now time to develop a design, which should be leading edge but also have a classic sense of style to ensure a longer life cycle. "The cost of a project depends on how long it will last, and that includes that balance between du- rability and sense of style," Musco says. "We try to encourage people to allow their partners to use the best materials and techniques they can afford. Make the most solid investment you can because if you are busy it gets a lot of wear. You need things that are durable and tasteful." + Consider This

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