Brands convey a uniform quality, credibility and experience to your customers. It shapes consumers’ perceptions and expectations too. Hotel brands like Taj, Oberoi and Hyatt have made themselves known in the hotel industry because of the sheer brand building exercises they have undertaken. These brands have communicated their identity clearly to the target group that others could not. So to understand the concept of branding in Indian hotel and restaurant industry, we have to understand the following areas-
Areas to look upon
Feedback: Restaurant experts believe that negative feedback about products and services should be considered while developing the branding strategy. Make a list of the things where you have been pointed out, and reposition it the next time when your customer is in for lunch/dinner.
Use Social Media: Social media is the easiest way of looking for consumers. Today, people are more active on social media than relying on going out to a restaurant and checking the offerings. Create a Facebook page, advertise through Twitter and post new offerings and product launch on your page. This will not only help you create a brand strategy, but will also increase your visibility.
Creating a Logo: Company logo is an important part of branding. It is a way of branding your restaurant. Restaurant like Mad About China, which focuses on Chinese cuisines targeting the young customer has used a Chinese trendy woman in its logo communicating the brand value.
Bringing new offerings: Introducing new menu to the existing one of the restaurant is always a positive sign of branding. An industry expert says that, about 15-20 percent of sales come from new offerings that a restaurant introduces strategically.
Creating a different image from others in the market is very important for a brand. For instance, in a move to create product differentiation among global coffee brands, Cafe Coffee Day’s new dialogue box, designed by Landor Associates, was able to introduce its customers the concept of social hub. A restaurateur should work on all areas to make his product more demandable than his competitor. Brands like Subway and McDonalds consider competitor strength and weaknesses and competitor retaliation potential.
Ameet Pahilani, Founder, Cafe Chokolade, says, “The most important thing is standardisation of the product, as you need to serve the same taste irrespective of the place you are serving”.
Branding for Start-up
Creating a brand image for a start-up restaurant is difficult. Word-of-mouth is the best way for branding a new restaurant because your customers are the one who will communicate about your brand to others.
According to the industry experts, a new restaurant should focus more on the product and operations rather than investing money in branding and marketing. This is because if the product is good and have value for money offerings, it will definitely create a brand identity for the restaurant.
Red Ginger Hospitality, owned by Gaurav Ahuja, who runs restaurants like Mad About China, Sizzler Cafe and Indian Tadka, believes in delivering fresh foods and value for money prices to maintain a brand identity.
For established and scaling-up brands
An established and growing brand should focus more on consistency. Once your restaurant is a hit, you have to focus on every single metric to maintain the brand image. Tasty food and value for money product can bring your customer close to you.
Manish Kumar Baheyeti, Owner, Haute Services Pvt Ltd, shares, “If you give a good meal one day and bad meal the other day, things will not work. You have to create an image, a brand identity for your offerings.”
Ajay Kaul, CEO, Jubilant Foodworks, says, “Every single metric has to be built so that every store looks like one, how satisfied are people here, how satisfied are the customers here, what is the ‘khushiyon’ ka meter reading here. We believe that this is the reason why not a single store of ours is closed in last six years creating brand identity.”
Spending a large amount on marketing your brand is the major challenge that a restaurant faces. Target audience is another important part of branding, most often restaurant branding fails because of owners’ unawareness of target customers.
A restaurateur should avoid spending more on branding rather try to bring in value for money into his offerings. “Do not communicate any wrong message about your product and offering to the customer,” warns Ahuja.