Restaurant Rebrand Series: 5 Steps to Rebranding Your Restaurant

McDonalds Restaurant Rebrand - Logos

There comes a point in every established restaurant brand’s journey where the team asks: “Do we need a rebrand?” Perhaps things feel a little stale, or you’re struggling to keep up with competitors. While rebranding may seem like the obvious solution, it’s important to note that restaurants can resolve many business woes with simpler actions like adding new menu items or pushing out campaigns.

When determining if a rebrand is the best course of action, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What parts of our existing brand strategy are working well?
  • What can we improve?
  • What sales metrics aren’t we hitting?
  • Who are our competitors? What are they doing well?
  • How do we compare industry-wide?

If the answers to these questions lead you to believe you need a rebrand, use the following key steps to simplify the process and provide measurable results.

1. Understand Your Customers and Brand Mission

Think back to when you determined what was working well in your business and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are the guests visiting your business regurarly?
  • What is their demographic?
  • What do they expect when they visit your locations?
  • What do you want their experience to be like?

These questions determine the values you want to uphold when undergoing a rebrand. For example, if guests know your brand for a great, affordable cup of coffee, you won’t want to change your brand to exude “luxury.” Showcase your greatest qualities through the rebrand so that loyal customers still rely on you.

After a PR nightmare with their spokesperson in 2015, Subway underwent a massive rebrand but initially kept customer favorites, such as the $5 footlong sub.

2. Develop Your Plan

Once you know your brand mission and what goals you’d like to accomplish, it’s time to hit the drawing board and dive into the technicalities of the rebrand.

Things to consider:

  • What to do first and what to save for last?
  • What team members to involve?
  • How to communicate the rebrand to both staff and guests?
  • How long will it take?
  • How much will the rebrand cost?

When Dunkin’ (formerly Dunkin’ Donuts) announced they were rebranding to “Dunkin’,” they determined the overall rebrand would cost $100 million. Other rebrands have cost much more, and have taken several months, such as McDonald’s 18-month rebrand in 2014.

Determine what changes to make, how this will affect your restaurant locations, and the time and money that will go into the project. From there, map out a plan for communicating the rebrand both internally and externally.

3. Undergo a Brand Redesign Exploration Process

How can you update your restaurant brand’s look to align with your customers? What can you change to appeal to your target audience? The best way to explore is to hire a graphic designer, and together, look at competitor brands and related businesses that have undergone successful rebrands. What small changes did they make to their logo that work well? What would you have done differently? How did they update their interiors to appeal to their target customer base?

Starbucks has a reputation for updating their existing logo of a mermaid to a simpler version of the same image. Dunkin’ removed “donuts” from their name in an effort to reach younger crowds. Your brand redesign can be this outwardly “simple” or can develop into an entirely new look for your restaurant.

Consider the following process when consulting with your graphic designer:

  1. Create a vision board (a set of words and pictures) to glean inspiration on the feeling behind your brand. The more information you can provide them, the closer they’ll get toward accomplishing the look and feel you desire.
  2. Compile your goals for the rebrand, your audience, and the buyer personas you’re targeting, then share that with your designer.
  3. Ask for multiple logo options from your designer.
  4. Don’t be afraid to iterate and give harsh feedback to your designer. Finding a brand’s true look and feel is a process; be patient!

4. Decide on a Final Look and Feel, and Incorporate Your New Brand into All Collateral

Once you have determined the final look and feel for your brand, it is time to update all of your collateral. This means that you should update your website, app, menus, logos, interiors, exteriors, and packaging with the new branding. It is imperative that everything is consistent so as not to confuse your customers.

5. Communicate Your Rebrand Online

While you may have already alerted the media and your customers of an upcoming rebrand, once the project is in its completed stage, take to the internet to share the news. Send a comprehensive email to your distribution lists that explains the rebrand in an authentic and genuine way. Communicate to your customers that they are a part of this new journey.

Be sure to highlight the great parts of your brand that have remained and what you’re looking to do with all the changes. Repeat these steps on social media and have your social media team ready to answer questions that will come through your channels. Take it a step further and draft up sample answers to questions you expect your team will receive. Assure customers that change is good and exciting, and they will be eager to pay a visit to your new-and-improved restaurant to see for themselves.

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Jenna Calderara

Jenna Calderara

Jenna Calderara is the B2B Content Manager on the Marketing Team at Grubhub and LevelUp Agency. She is also a big fan of soup. When she’s not at work she enjoys cooking, blogging about wellness, and trying new Boston-area restaurants. If you’re interested in vegetarian recipes, follow her on Instagram @jennacalderara or on Twitter @jenrara for daily musings.

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