how to connect people to your restaurant brand

Zoes Kitchen family

be remarkable.

A truly noteworthy restaurant is one that captivates people and makes them feel connected to the brand. But with extensive competition in the industry, how can you facilitate this desired connection with your customers?

From our perspective, it starts with the desire to become remarkable. Being remarkable is much more than creating an excellent product and delivering superior service – it’s about designing a space that customers can relate to.

What does it look like to create a remarkable experience? The answer lies within your environment. While the food and service need to be noteworthy, it’s the environment that sets the expectation for what the restaurant delivers. If the products are top-notch but the design is underdeveloped – it’s still ordinary. You need to create an environment that’s inspired by the target audience. This inevitably will affect them on both an intellectual and emotional level.

This doesn’t mean that every store needs to be on the bleeding edge of trends or crazy expensive to be remarkable. But they do need to connect with people’s emotions. And it’s nearly impossible to create this kind of environment without first putting in the time to identify and subsequently research your target audience. In the end, you’ll be able to create a space that’s relevant, inviting and remarkable.

"if the products are top-notch but the design is underdeveloped - it's still ordinary."

To turn an idea into a remarkable experience, we guide our clients through the following three steps:

Identify your true target customer.

Focusing on a well-defined target audience will help you establish clear and consistent objectives for your concept. This doesn’t necessarily mean excluding everyone else. It’s about creating a space that reverberates with the people that will have the most influence on your success. There’s something to be said about having a distinct brand. If you aim to appeal to everyone, you run the risk of appearing watered down and ordinary. However, if you specifically design with your target in mind, your peripheral customers will often follow.

Research their motivation.

To best understand your customers, you absolutely must do analytical research to determine what motivates their decisions. This is especially important when deciding what will appeal to your audience. Think to yourself, “would this attract my target?” To do this, we begin our design process by conducting brand discovery exercises with our clients that combine right brain and left brain thinking. This takes into consideration brand personality as well as strategic positioning. We have found that this intentional approach helps restauranteurs better understand their business, culture and aspirations – as well as their target market.

Make the experience remarkable.

Now that you’ve done the background research, it’s time to touch on emotions. In the book, Purple Cow, author Seth Godin explains how even beautiful grazing cows in picturesque pastures no longer remain interesting after you’ve seen enough of them. But stumbling on a purple cow would capture anyone’s attention. Creating a store that causes people to tilt their head in wonder – is definitely something worth going after. Among a sea of ordinary stores (and cows), consumers are looking for places that stand out – something that excites them. It’s vital to create that feeling with your experience.

People tend to view spaces as a unified whole, rather than individual parts. In designing a restaurant, it’s important to recognize that customers often don’t perceive the details unless they’re wrong. If a customer enters a well-designed space that hits their emotions, they may not be able to describe why they like it – the environment simply feels right. Using lighting, signage, art and graphics to create function as well as feeling can help your customers relax, be at ease and enjoy the experience. By creating a well-choreographed journey through the space with clear visual and messaging hierarchy, customers won’t feel tense or out of place. Add in a few unique and distinct design elements – and your target audience will be raving about their visit. You’ll create your own purple cow – and that’s something truly remarkable.

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