How to differentiate your restaurant brand: it’s more than the food

It’s common for restaurant brands to think that what makes them unique is the taste and freshness of their food. Why? Because research shows that flavour and freshness are the top motivators when consumers choose a restaurant. But the reality is that flavour and freshness are not differentiators; they are basic requirements of every restaurant. They are like soles on shoes: without them, everything falls apart.

To effectively differentiate your restaurant brand – and to foster unwavering loyalty from consumers – you have to think beyond your tangible assets: the food, the décor, etc. It’s the intangibles that will set you apart from the competition.

A unique and meaningful position
Every brand activation should be anchored by unique, meaningful and memorable positioning. Your positioning brings your intangible values to life and lets both consumers and your franchisee partners know what you stand for as a brand. In order to build the positioning, it’s important to tap into your brand history, values, societal trends and market shifts in order to ensure relevancy.

A compelling brand experience
Branding goes beyond what customers see; it’s about the entirety of the customer experience but especially about what they think and feel about your company. The key is consistency… because a consistent experience builds trust. Consumers need to know what they can expect from your brand, and that it will be the same day in and day out, and in every channel: your advertising, social media, direct mail, email, website, in the community, and in store.

An enhanced customer relationship
Show your consumers that you care. “The customer is always right” is even more relevant in the age of social media. Treat your customers with respect and compassion every time. Deal with their issues quickly, both in store and online. Monitor online mentions of your brand on all platforms. This can reveal potential issues that you may be able to solve. There are many tools to help you with this process. When you go above and beyond, it creates an indelible impression in consumers’ minds and they will be very likely to share their positive experience with others.

In order to maintain a consistent customer experience, all company stakeholders must be aligned. Keep your franchisees engaged and informed about your brand values, and give them training and tools on customer relationship best practices.

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