The restaurant industry is considered one of the most competitive among all business industries. New dining establishments pop up every week — everything from new trendy small food kiosks or stands to cafes, food trucks, and fine dining restaurants — join the selection of places to eat, particularly in urban locations.
However, studies reveal that despite this, failure at longevity somewhat neutralizes the growth of the restaurant scene. Foodservice businesses remain one of the top enterprises to fail within two years after launch. A lot of factors play into this issue, such as cutthroat competition and high startup costs.
Therefore, if you’re a restaurateur, it’s imperative to develop a dynamic plan for business operations. You need to look into all the aspects that can make the business click with customers and maintain their loyalty.
One of these aspects is your restaurant menu. Restaurant owners should always look at it as an excellent opportunity to build up their brand.
The Importance of Restaurant Menu Design for Branding
A restaurant menu is not just a booklet or sheet of paper to help diners know what they can eat, as it also serves to impart the following information:
When it comes to your restaurant menu, you need to think about how it communicates brand values. You want your customers to automatically get a good sense of what your business stands for the moment they view the menu.
This is one of the reasons why the most popular high-end restaurants spend a considerable amount of money on leather-bound, gold-inscribed menu booklets. They want their diners to see that they are committed to the finest quality, and they miss no detail in demonstrating this commitment.
2. Brand recall
Restaurant menu design, Dubai branding specialists say, the restaurant menu is also the perfect chance to leave your mark in the minds of your customers. You can display brand consistency with it, as well.
You will notice that a lot of longstanding dining destination menus are consistent with the interior design or the brick and mortar establishment. These bear the logo, slogan, and even the dominant colors of the restaurant architecture and interior style.
Not only that, the typeface used and other images on it can likewise be found throughout the establishment, such as the signage, the uniform of the employees, and other marketing paraphernalia. Such consistency creates an imprint on the minds of people that wherever and whenever they see those visual elements, they are instantly reminded of your restaurant brand.
The restaurant menu is also the material where you can emphasize the quality your brand upholds. For example, the best steakhouse in Abu Dhabi makes sure that vital information about the steaks they serve is included in their restaurant menu. There are certification stamps and a bit of background data for their most expensive Wagyu beef.
It’s not enough that the menu has beautiful images of the food offerings, additional information should be included to give diners an accurate idea of the superior quality products they are getting, which is what the restaurant brand is all about.
With a smart restaurant menu design, such information can be presented in a highly creative manner. This way, it does not just contain text that customers can glaze over, but exciting information they can appreciate.
Restaurant Menu Attributes to Boost Your Brand
To come up with an attractive, functional and standout menu design, below is a discussion of the key attributes you need to consider:
1. Unique voice
This is essential in getting your brand personality across. For instance, if your restaurant’s target market are families, let your slogan and the way you present your menu items be appropriate for such an audience. Describe food in a wholesome way — just like how a beloved aunt who’s a great cook would describe the spread for the family Christmas dinner.
Your restaurant logo is the exclusive stamp of your brand. It is the image that people will remember most about and automatically associate with your brand. Therefore, work closely with a branding company in designing your brand logo, which you will use across all your marketing materials and products, including your restaurant menu.
Typeface or font is your choice of lettering for the restaurant menu. There are so many typeface designs to choose from. As much as possible, choose one that is not only easy to read but also quite unique. If possible, come up with your brand’s own typeface. This way, it will be more distinguishable, and when people see it, they will be reminded of your brand right away.
4. Signature images
It always helps to have signature images on your restaurant menu, such as your most popular meal set. It’s good to remind people of what your business is the best at delivering. And to make these images benefit your brand optimally well, make sure that the real-live version looks exactly the same. Let reality be consistent with your customers’ expectations. Otherwise, your brand value will diminish.
5. Standout features
To make the restaurant menu more memorable, it’s worth including standout features or unexpected details. There’s nothing like a quirky element to the design to delight customers and think more fondly or be in awe of your brand. Trendy restaurants are actually the best at this.
For example, an artisanal restaurant opts to use thin wood instead of paper for its menu. Not only that, but it has also chosen to write and illustrate the menu using a soldering wand. Meanwhile, there is a fairy tale-inspired family restaurant whose menu works like a pop-up storybook. These unique menu designs give people a truly outstanding impression of the restaurant brand.
Be Thoughtful About Your Restaurant Menu
Like any business, managing a restaurant can be quite challenging, so take advantage of the different opportunities to boost your brand.
Be sure to not overlook anything because, quite often, the seemingly trivial components of your operations, such as the restaurant menu, can have a major impact on ensuring business growth despite the highly competitive restaurant scene.
Stuart Harris is the Creative Director at Yellow, a Dubai branding agency, digital partner, and advertising company working with progressive businesses to build bold, meaningful brands.