Restaurant Development & Design

MAR-APR 2018.

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6 6 • 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 • M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 8 How To Connect the Digital and Analog Brand Experience BY AMANDA BALTAZAR W hen was the last time a new customer walked into a restaurant without hav- ing checked it out online? Having viewed your restaurant online, are consumers surprised when they get there? Or is the feel of the restaurant so similar to the digital introduction they had that it's simply an extension of it? Too many restaurants and chains cannot answer yes to the second ques- tion, but it's critical. There's no point in having a brand that exists out in the digital space and another that exists in brick-and-mortar format. Both need to match in order to set expectations and create a seamless guest experience. "These days, you're hitting a cus- tomer at multiple touch points, and each one is 100 percent important," says Amy Dennis, owner and creative director of Nice Branding Agency in Nashville. "Ev- ery single touch point has the opportunity to make an impact on a customer," she says, adding that when you ignore one or two, "you are weakening the overall potential impact of the brand." These touch points, Dennis says, include any portal of communication like signage, menu, social media ad- vertisements, email marketing, website verbiage and design, and images of food presentation. Joseph Szala, principal, creative and strategist at Vigor, a restaurant branding agency in Atlanta, agrees. "There can be a chasm between the digital and the in-store experience, and it stems from the fact that websites don't cost a lot," he says. However, before you can ensure your brand — whether you're an independent restaurant or a chain — is consistent, you have to know exactly what your brand stands for, Dennis says, "or you're going to be on a wishy-washy road." Whatever you decide is your brand, it has to be consistently mirrored in the store and on the website — everything from colors and patterns to verbiage. If you take a slightly cheeky tone via your menus and in-store signage, you need to replicate that in digital experiences. If you're clean-cut and tailored, have your website and all your social media reflect that. "Whatever your personality is, it's got to be on display," says Dennis. "Peo- ple find a connection to personalities. Similar to when a person is inconsistent in the delivery of their personality, cus- tomers will not be drawn to your brand personality if it shows inconsistencies from one platform to another." When examining your brand, ex- plains Szala, the first question to ask is what people want from it — experience- wise, both online and off. "Brands who consider that have a stronger experi- ence," he says. "It's about interpreting your brand through everything you do." This experience goes beyond copying colors, fonts and aesthetic to the entire experience and must take into consid- eration the type of service. A consumer on a fast-food retailer's website, for example, probably wants to order food, then move on; a consumer on a fine- dining restaurant's website likely wants a more leisurely online experience. Rebranding Across All Platforms Two years ago, Cowboy Chicken, a Dallas-based fast-casual chain with more than 25 locations, went through an extensive rebranding process — looking at every single aspect of the

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