McDonald's jobs. General view of a McDonald's restaurant in Camden, London, as the fast food restaurant announced the creation of a significant number of new jobs across the UK in the next year. Picture date: Wednesday January 23, 2013. See PA story INDUSTRY Jobs McDonalds. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire URN:15614686 (Press Association via AP Images)

Photo credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire URN:15614686 (Press Association via AP Images)

In the hospitality world, if you can’t keep up, there are plenty of contenders waiting in line to take your place in the hearts and minds of your consumers. The digital consumer of today is more empowered than ever and unafraid to rustle a few feathers with a devastating Yelp review. It is up to the brands to implement strategies that will serve the tide of demanding customers. So, what can you do to ensure the best customer journey and experience? First, effective Branding, because it’s the very first impression of your establishment. Branding gives a new customer a reason to sit down and order something from your menu. To avoid getting lost in the crowd, here are a few pitfalls in Restaurant/ Hotel Branding to avoid.

Pitfall 1: Not revitalising your Brand to keep pace with the changing times

It’s okay to rely on those loyal patrons that have been enriching your business for years, but today it helps to adopt a unique brand voice so that you make a lasting impact and customers come back for more. Remember, you may be iconic to the generation that you served and grew with, so your older customers will always have a reason to come back, but what about new customers? Your clientele isn’t immortal, so you will have to do something to attract new customers, branding is a key part of this. It could be something as simple as revamping your menus to incorporate some colour and typography, instead of the same old, laminated printouts you’ve been using for generations. Go for a contemporary way to showcase your history and heritage and showcase your story.

From the tubby, winky chef to the iconic golden arches that are signature to outlets across the globe, Mc Donald’s is a great example of logos done right. Back in the 1940’s the original founders of Mc Donald’s were revolutionaries who introduced the concept of fast food for the first time. So for the first eight years, the logo reflected their one of a kind, ‘Speeder Service System’ with the tubby chef who looked like he was in a rush to get somewhere. Once the fast food concept spread and competitors began entering the market, the McDonald brothers brought in a sign maker to design the logo while incorporating the two golden arches which held the structure of their building up. Later, after Ray Kroc acquired the company, the golden arches remained as the brand’s corporate identity. Over the next few decades, the brand continued to revamp and tweak the logo so as to keep with the times, however, the elements remain the same- the iconic, golden arches. This goes to prove that you don’t have to let go of everything about your logo, an update that appeals to the modern masses will do just fine.

Pitfall 2: Not standing for anything

In today’s hyper-connected, digital age of awareness and social responsibility, consumers are looking to connect more than consume. Customers are becoming more conscious about the brands they choose to support, especially the segment with a higher spending power because they have a larger number of options open to them. If you don’t stand for something, you have no purpose. If you have no purpose, well, it’s basically downhill from there! So remember to define your purpose as a brand and reflect that in your branding. If you’re a vegan restaurant, you stand for the environment and the planet, make sure that your branding represents that. If you’re into Keto foods only, you’re into the business of human health, make sure that you convey that through its branding. If you feel like you don’t know what your brand stands for, or you’ve never given it adequate thought, take the time to step back and reflect on that. Introspect about your business and what it means to you, this will help you in creating a base for your brand which you can then build every other strategy on. With restaurants and hotels, customers experience their brand from the moment they enter into the establishment to the moment they exit it. Good branding ensures a consistent experience throughout and gives the customer a reason to emotionally connect with them, thus increasing the chances of them returning.

Pitfall 3: Not telling a story

Behrouz Biryani does one thing, but they do it well! They only offer biryanis and a few signature kebabs, but their branding is top notch. Enticing visuals of aromatic biryanis are brought to life with the rich voice of actor, Raza Murad to create an experience that coaxes you to order some biryani within minutes of watching the commercial. Everything about the brand, from its rich website with regal imagery to their black and gold packaging containing food that’s fit for kings, tells a story. The story is about the origins of biryani and the inspiration that drives the brand and everything about their offerings are in total synch. So if you’re looking to brand or rebrand, your first step is finding your inner voice as a brand and telling a story to represent this.

Pitfall 4: Devaluing your Brand

If you don’t want to attract the bargain hunters, stop thinking like one. Your branding should never be focused on discounts and bargains because you will only attract the kind of customer who prefers quantity over quality, those who are not loyal. An excessive focus on discounts and offers devalues your brand and that is just bad for business. Have pride in who you are and what you offer and highlight your uniqueness instead of relying on discounts to attract customers.

Pitfall 5: Larger than life Branding

No, a huge hoarding stating that you have the “Best Steak in Town”, isn’t going to do much to set you apart from the competition, or define you as a brand. Today’s digital consumer is more aware than ever and has learned to tune “marketing” out. The consumer will perceive your claims as a desperate attempt to grab attention, and this does very little to create a lasting impression. You will get lost in the crowd. Also, remember that a statement like “Best Kebabs in Town” is nothing but an opinion, you may have the best kebabs in town, but that’s YOUR perspective, your customers may feel otherwise!

Pitfall 6: Ignoring the science of colours

Ever thought about why some of the biggest players in the food industry use so much red and yellow in their branding? From KFC to Mc Donald’s and even Subway, if you think this is a coincidence, think again! Colours impact our subconscious in fascinating ways, some create a sense of warmth, while others stimulate your appetite, and some can create a sense of happiness and comfort. So while considering the psychology behind colour, select your colour schemes based on what you wish to project. Colours such as blue and purple have a calm and serene effect. Studies have concluded that blue even lowers the blood temperature and heart rate, so they’re great options for hotels. Colours such as red, orange and yellow are appetite stimulants, and green is associated with nature, so if you’re a health-focused establishment, incorporating a little green could go a long way.