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The Dont’s of Restaurant Rebranding

We have had a series of write-ups about rebranding before; having established that many restaurant chains remodeled their establishments after observing that remodeling is proven to be a big sales driver. We have emphasized the need for restaurateurs to evolve their restaurant brand over time to maintain the market’s interest and to keep the brand relevant. We have also given tips on how to remodel, as well as gave you a list of successful rebranding campaigns in the past years.

Now we would like to complete the series, giving you a list of don’ts when attempting to rebrand your dining place.

1. Don’t hang on to history. It’s great to keep the traditions maintained by the restaurant, but assumptions and theories that were made when your brand was created may no longer be real in these changing times. Analyze the changes in your target markets in planning out and looking into opportunities for your brand’s repositioning, expansion and revitalization.

2. Do not navigate without a clear-cut plan. Successful rebrands rely on creative briefs that would keep all players focused as the rebranding project progresses. Creative briefs include situation analysis, target markets, objectives, timeframe, budget and financial resources, known parameters, point person, structures of approval and metrics for results assessment.

3. Do not just focus on experienced branding consultants—consider those without experience in the industry, too. Sometimes it does work, deemed ideal at times, especially if you’re planning on a complete turnaround. Realize the importance of a fresh perspective.

4. Don’t think that your brand is mainly the logo, corporate colors, your stationery, a new menu on an opulent restaurant menu cover, a new slogan or a new advertisement. Rebranding encompasses everything – your customers’ perception as well as their experience to the look and feel of your business, customer care, online environment, quality, your communications’ tone and feel, and more. Your brand strategy is supposed to lead your advertising, not your advertising leading your rebranding efforts. There are effective rebrands that do not have traditional advertising at all.

5. Do not undertake a rebrand that could just be perceived as a shallow facelift or come up with one that lacks credibility. Make sure your new image is believable, taking into consideration your previous experiences, customers’ views and internal atmosphere. If your employees do not believe in the changes, your target audience will not, either.

6. Do not do rebranding without the necessary customer research. Your current and potential diners ought to be the front and the core of your focus when creating solutions. Numbers do help, but be careful to balance this with actual observation of your customers. Try to get the full story in dealing with your customer statistics.

7. Do not underestimate the power of your brand’s existing value and goodwill to your customers. Consider your restaurant’s current strengths and keep them, such as a great menu on an elegant restaurant menu cover, so as not to alienate your established diners. Unnecessary overhauls have the potential to damage your rebranding effort. Analyze your target market’s mindset and needs in coming up with your initiatives. Sometimes small changes – maybe just a fresh paint color—are the only thing needed to revitalize and make your brand relevant.

8. Do not forget to try on your diners’ shoes. Take time to know the challenges that your customers face when they dine at your restaurant, when they navigate your website, when they order take out, or when they ask for delivery service.

9. Do not put a wrong person in charge, and try not to strategize by committee. Make sure that your point persons–keeping only a short list, ideally a multi-level one and not limited to executive level– are equipped with the skills, resources and time to complete the project successfully and effectively. Careful with too many committees — too many views and opinions delay the process.

10. Do not forget to remind your team that they are there for the long haul. It’s tempting for your team members to abandon ship when the final presentation is done, but motivate, encourage and give incentives to keep your rebranding team intact all throughout the implementation.

11. Do not think that rebranding is expensive. Good, creative thoughts do not necessarily equate to multi-million dollar costs. Effective, innovative ideas can come from one of your in-house talents, small-time consultants (could be university graduates, at that) or start-up branding agencies.

12. Do not believe that you are too small to rebrand. Every restaurant needs to be refreshed as the market evolves.