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7 simple ways to build a successful restaurant brand and stand the test of time

Published in partnership with Jenny Handley Performance

17 November 2022

In our beautiful country, we are spoilt with many wonderful restaurants that range from casual to special occasion dining. Some boast spectacular settings, others legendary chefs, and those who have stood the test of time, have developed a brand that resonates with the diner, consistently.

A restaurant brand is not a look or logo – it is an experience. It is emotive, it sits in the heart, not the head, of a customer. In a soft economy, restaurant guests want to stick with familiar brands they know and trust – it is expensive to make a mistake. A restaurant experience is not merely about the food, but more about every person who brings the food to life.

I have worked with many passionate chefs and investors across South Africa to create successful restaurant brands. Many years ago, I was consulted to re-brand the restaurant at Groot Constantia. My client wanted to rename it The Groot Constantia Restaurant, but instead, I advised that they call it Simon’s (after Simon van der Stel, former governor of the Cape and the first owner of the farm). Why? Because it linked to heritage and more importantly, gave it personality. We knew it had worked when an arrogant diner arrived one day and announced to the maître’d that he needed a prime table as he was a good friend of Simon’s!

My advice is simple:

  1. Define your mission and vision – it’s like answering the questions of who are we, and what do we stand for?
  2. Be authentic and do something different – do not be a carbon copy of another restaurant.
  3. Ensure that your offering suits the location – is what you want to serve what diners want to enjoy?
  4. Define your target market, and build your brand offering accordingly.
  5. Yes, a look and logo are important, but the name and byline are more so – make it distinctive and memorable. It needs to convey the soul of the space or personality of the chef, should they be the drawcard.
  6. Craft a marketing plan that aims at effective, credible coverage, starting on your doorstep – if locals love you, they will tell their friends and families, who in turn will tell theirs…
  7. Build relationships with your diners. Be friendly, get to know them, appreciate them, focus on their guest experience and they will become an integral part of your word-of-mouth marketing team.
Bonus tip:

The most important advice I can share is to hire good people with a great attitude, and then train them. Keep on training them if you want to be known as an enduring and consistent brand, and a restaurant that delivers more than a meal – and rather an edible memory.

Jenny Handley Performance

Jenny Handley Performance

Jenny Handley is a brand specialist, speaker and writer. She empowers companies and individuals to build their brands, offering brand strategies, high-performance training and sustainable leadership development in hospitality and other industries. Founder and curator of JHP Gourmet Guide™, SA’s original, respected restaurant rating, it’s the brand that she is the proudest of.

All views and opinions expressed in this article represent that of the author, Jenny Handley, and do not represent that of Dineplan or the companies we work with. While we make every effort to ensure that the information we share is accurate, we welcome any comments, suggestions, or correction of errors.

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