5 Most Important Aspects of Fast Casual Restaurant Branding
As a total foodie and social media manager, I pay close attention to restaurant branding. While not all of your consumers are paying quite as much attention to every detail, it makes a huge difference in how they think of your brand. Here are 5 attributes that fast casual brands should pay attention to when it comes to branding:
Consistent Color Palette/Aesthetic
As a consumer, one of the first things I notice when exploring new restaurants to try is the overall aesthetic of their branding. To be specific, I look at the color palette used in their menus, website, mobile app, and the restaurant interior.
Dig Inn, is a fast casual restaurant chain with bowls featuring locally sourced vegetables. They use the same pastel palette for their website, menus, interiors, and mobile app. The consistency of the color scheme across all of their platforms creates a sense of unity and familiarity. Plus, it subconsciously tells the customer that they have reached the right place, whether it be via a web search, or stopping into a location after hearing about the business from a friend.
User-Friendly and Attractive Website
With the rise in dietary restrictions and preferences among Americans, many consumers will find themselves researching a restaurant online before visiting in person.
Because a website may be the first taste a potential guest has of a specific restaurant, the navigation, design, and how well the site runs overall could be a make-or-break point for a customer. I have personally found myself immediately being turned off by a restaurant before even visiting if I was unable to navigate through their website with ease, if the design looked outdated and treated as an afterthought, or if I was unable to access the menu.
NYC-based health-conscious chain, fresh&co, is a perfect example of how a website should be designed for a fast casual restaurant; the navigation is smooth, the design is clean, their social media is linked on the front page, and the menu is easily accessible.
A well-designed logo should not take the back seat in restaurant branding, as the brand is more likely to be associated with this image than any other. While complicated designs can be attractive, they can also be busy and overwhelming, and not reflect a restaurant’s overall brand design. Restaurants with well designed logos that feature simple imagery are easy to remember, recognize, and do not take away from the restaurant’s brand itself. Additionally, these logos are arguably easier to screenprint on merchandise.
Boston chain Clover has a minimalist yet easily recognizable logo that is simply their name in what appears to be a custom font. The negative white space inside the letters makes the logo pleasant to look at and does not take away from their brand mission, which is to offer simple, yet delicious seasonal foods.
Quality Food Photography
While online menus have been a way for customers to decide whether or not they’d like to visit a particular restaurant since the dawn of the Internet, food photography is an extra step a brand can take to attract visitors.
That said, pictures that are low-light, and low-quality are not going to do a restaurant any big favors. According to Curalate, images that have high lightness generate 24% more likes than those of a darker quality on mobile platform like Instagram.
Health-conscious chain True Food Kitchen, has mastered the art of beautiful food photography, and also re-shares photos of their food from their many customers on their Instagram account. The success of these images is do to the bright, airy, and beautifully styled photos of their product that are consistent across their platforms.
With the increase in mobile app utilization in the restaurant industry, the consistency in a restaurant’s brand is more important now than ever. This ability to connect a business’s mobile app back to the restaurant itself is crucial for features such as ordering ahead online.
Potbelly Sandwich Shop, a 400~ location nationwide sandwich shop, offers a mobile app that looks nearly identical to their website in terms of color scheme, design, fonts, and navigation. Further, their website has familiar attributes that would remind any Potbelly customer of their in-store decor, successfully tying all three platforms together, and keeping it simple for their users to order.