How to Build Your Restaurant’s Brand
From logos and menus to great restaurant photography
Opening a new restaurant requires a lot of moving parts, not to mention the thousands of tiny details that can get overlooked. The list can be exhausting. Once you have the initial idea for your restaurant, building your identity, your brand, becomes a pressing factor. How do you want to be represented? Is your brand loud or whimsical? Or is it more humble and sophisticated? How you present yourself becomes your identity and determines who will become loyal guests.
The process of building your business and its physical and digital presence includes designing logos, menus and branding materials, as well as taking high-quality photography of your food and interiors and all of the important information you’ll want your guests to know. We’ve highlighted some tips and best practices as a guide to building your brand.
What makes a good restaurant logo?
A good restaurant logo is simple, functional and relevant. For restaurants, it’s important to have a logo that conveys the restaurant's personality. The logo should be functional so that it can be used in an array of different print and digital scenarios and remain legible. Lastly, the logo should reflect the restaurant's image by utilizing fonts and colors that are true to the nature of the restaurant’s identity.
Braven Brewing logo engraved pint glass.
Logo best practices:
Format: Ensure the logo master file is saved as a vector. For web, make sure to upload as .jpeg or .png format at 72 pixels-per-square-inch (PPI).
Content: Create multiple variations of the logo for a variety of uses. This includes different orientations (horizontal, square, vertical) and different compositions for maximum flexibility. Make sure that it looks good in color and black and white depending on the media type, especially for print.
DIY: Download Adobe Illustrator if you want to make your own logos. If you’re looking for a quick mock-up, Looka is a great alternative logo generation tool.
Agency: Hire an agency or studio if you have a larger budget and want to completely transform your entire restaurant identity (pricing: $5K-$20K+; timeline: 3-12 months). For smaller-scale projects, a small studio or freelance designer can help produce a fresh new logo or branding redesign that works with your existing identity on a smaller budget (pricing: $300-$5K; timeline: 1-3 months).
What makes a good menu?
The menu is another opportunity for the restaurant to show its personality. By using colors, fonts, illustrations and icons, the menu can assist customers to make satisfying choices. The menu should be formatted into sections that allow the customer to easily scan through what you offer. Too many food and beverage options can be overwhelming for your guests. The ideal number to remember is 7 options per category. It’s also important for your online menu to be text-based, or readable by screen readers, which reads your website for visitors with disabilities. You can read more about digitally accessible websites and the Americans with Disabilities Act here.
Choose appropriate colors that fit with your other branded materials for brand consistency and legibility. Use colors that are easy to see and font choices that are simple to read. Menus should be formatted easily for both digital and print—creating a design that would easily translate to your website.
Menu best practices:
Layout: Make sure the menu is formatted so the customer can scan it easily, and digest the content in sections. Make sure your options sound satisfying by using appetizing language and item descriptions.
Sections: Break your menu up into separate pages rather than trying to fit all of your options on a single page. This creates a better guest experience.
Consistency: Use the same typography, colors and graphics as all of your other branded collateral.
What other creative collateral should you have?
When branding your restaurant, many owners want branded marketing collateral such as stickers, matchboxes, business cards, etc., which can further brand affinity and customer loyalty. Many restaurants choose to add branded packaging such as to-go boxes. Most elements are specific to the restaurant's needs. Thinking about hiring an agency for brand materials? BentoBox customers have worked with great agencies such as Gin Lane, Taoti Creative, Oat, Madwell and LMNOP Creative.
Two Guns Espresso branded materials.
Remember this, we eat with our eyes. And your website is your digital front door to the world. It’s important to follow these best practices so that you can create images that will represent your food and beverages in its best light, and more importantly, intrigue new and current customers to come into your restaurant.
What makes good food photography?
Best practices for food photography include using natural light rather than artificial. This promotes the true colors of the food. Use a neutral background so as not to be distracting. Shoot from angles that flatter the food or beverage.
Overhead photograph of a dish at Flories.
Food photography best practices:
Photographer: Hire a professional so they can help arrange and set up your photos for success.
Angles: When in doubt, go with overhead food shots as they simulate your guest's point of view of sitting at a table with the food.
Lighting: Increase brightness and contrast to help bring out the lush color and texture of the subject.
Content: Include action shots of your staff preparing dishes to help tell your story on your website.
Budgets: If you’re looking for budget-friendly options, find alternate resources at local colleges that feature photography classes or departments.
What makes good interior and exterior photography?
Best practices for interior/exterior spaces include using good lighting. Turn on all available lights in order to give color differentiation and depth. Choose angles that will highlight the space and showcase its characteristics and details. Make sure the space is clean and remove any items that clutter the area. Guests will look for images of your interiors to get an idea of the atmosphere of the restaurant, which is one of the key elements of satisfying guest experiences. This means having a photographer capture the essence of your restaurant when it’s busy and teeming with life. Include shots during a night service and a day service to show contrast.
A photograph of people in a busy cafe.
Having a powerful brand identity behind your business promotes brand affinity and recognition. Whether you’re a new opening or looking to revamp your existing brand, it’s important to implement best practices throughout the process. Looking to showcase your new brand online? We partner with over 5,000 restaurants, cafés and bars to bring their hospitality online. We’re ready to help.