Listen to your Target Audience
Know what audience you're serving. That may sound obvious, but you need to look further than your restaurant to gain a clear perspective into who is your ideal customer. Look at the local area, and see what the demographic is. Join the local chamber of commerce or business groups. If you're located near a municipal court house, hospital, or funeral home you're likely to have visitors who are not familiar with your establishment. Once you've determined the target audience to reach - get researching! How do they communicate, what are their likes and dislikes, and how can your food serve their needs?
Once you've determined where your audience communicates, adjust your message to match the medium, but keep the voice and identity of your brand consistent. For example, a message you send out using SMS will differ from one a caller may hear when calling, but the tone should stay the same. An SMS message will be brief and to the point, but the words and language should be similar in tone to your phone greetings and Message On Hold. Once your target audience identified and you know their communication preferences, the next step is creating the foundation for your communications. The foundation will be the basis for all messaging regardless of the medium used.
5 Words or Less
Using five words or less, list what defines your restaurant - this will be the foundation for all messaging. Make sure these words carry impact, and support the overall mission. Be sure to do some brainstorming here. You want to differentiate yourself from the competition in the area, while communicating value to your audience. You audience needs to see your service in a positive way that will provide them with multiple benefits. These words should summarize every aspect of your brand, from the food to the appearance and if it doesn't - don't use it.
Run the words by other members of management and get their feedback. Keep in mind that these words will be used throughout all aspects of communication from menu, online ordering apps, loyalty program, printed promotional materials, emails, social media, uniforms, and SMS texting. Once you have your list of words, create simple sentences defining how each word relates to your brand. These sentences will define your image and give you a direct message that can be used in your marketing and social media materials. Your message has become the foundation for your brand voice and overall image!
An important aspect of brand voice is making sure the brand imagery matches the voice. For example, don't use complex words with simple images on social media. Sending mixed messages that don't match your visuals will confuse your followers, current customers, and perspective customers. The imagery you use is just as important as the message you're communicating.
Once you have your foundation or brand voice determined you need to make sure that every aspect of your food business matches that message, or it'll be irrelevant. Yes, every aspect meaning: furniture, overhead music, all digital marketing content, all printed content, menu items, printed menus, and uniforms, even how the hostess and staff communicate with guests. Now that list may seem overwhelming, so understand that establishing a unified brand can take time, and for it to be most effective - the more consistent the better.
Not only should your imagery match the overall brand message, but the voice recordings you have playing need to match the brand too. Any video posted, or recording used needs tell a story in a tone that matches your message and chosen theme. With each word used to define your brand image you want to be sure you don't clutter your messaging. You still want to be clear and deliver your message while reinforcing the brand.
Music will affect the ambiance and mood of your guests and needs to match the brand. Try using only one genre of music to play. This rule should apply not only at the location, but to everything like videos and phone recordings. The voice used for any narration or phone recordings should also add value to the brand and not overcomplicate it. Some companies choose to use a character type voice to give their establishment a goofy, or authentic feel. A character voice works for some brand images, but not all. Even if a character fits your brand there's a fine line between authentic and cheesy.
Brand voice is no joke! It can make, or break your restaurant. You can't just have anyone creating your menus, printed materials, social posts, or developing your website. When you're on a tight budget it may seem ideal to ask a server to post something, but it won't be effective unless if follows the brand rules. Consider working with professionals who understand marketing and the mediums you plan to use.