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Building a Brand for Your Bar or Restaurant
by Rieva Lesonsky
May 4, 2022
Female restaurant owner standing at the counter looking at tablet

As you plan the launch of your new bar or restaurant, one of the most crucial steps to success is developing a brand. Your brand encompasses your logo, trademark, and marketing materials, among other things, but it’s more than the sum of these parts.

To state it simply, your brand is the image of your business.

Consider two businesses that both serve frozen treats, but have very different brands: Baskin-Robbins and Pinkberry. What do you think of when you think of these two brands? Here are some words that come to mind for me:

Baskin-Robbins: Fun, family, tradition, kid-friendly, happy, familiar

Pinkberry: Hip, trendy, modern, sophisticated, upscale, new

To develop your brand, begin by considering what makes your bar or restaurant different from the competition. Factors to think about include:

  • Special benefits. Does your bar or restaurant fill a need or solve a problem? Maybe it’s the only affordable lunch spot in an area with lots of high-end restaurants. Perhaps it’s a family-friendly eatery near an amusement park.
  • Unique features. Does your bar or restaurant have something no competing establishment in your area has? That could be a banquet room, a sing-along piano bar, or waiters dressed as clowns.
  • Production methods. Is there something noteworthy about how your food is made? Perhaps you serve only locally sourced or organic ingredients. Maybe your tortillas are handmade while customers watch.
  • Suppliers. Do you serve hard-to-find or desirable brands? Maybe your bar features a wide selection of premium tequilas, or your New York-style deli showcases brands normally sold only on the East Coast.
  • Target market. Who is your target customer? Families with young children? Hip singles? Sports fans? Foodies?
  • Atmosphere. Is your bar or restaurant hip or traditional? Romantic or family-friendly? Noisy and energetic, or quiet and peaceful?

Next, create your marketing message, which briefly summarizes what your brand stands for. Here are some sample marketing messages:

Mike’s Brewpub is a casual, friendly neighborhood restaurant serving lunch, dinner, and an ever-changing selection of craft beers—including its own brews--to discerning beer lovers.

Mundo is an eclectic eatery spotlighting small plates of cuisines from around Latin America. We serve fun, exotic food in an upbeat, energetic atmosphere that caters to foodies.

Al Italia is a romantic, upscale Italian restaurant that caters to special occasions and celebrations. We serve classic Northern Italian dishes in a traditional setting.

Once you’ve developed a marketing message that “hits the spot,” be sure all of your marketing efforts convey and reinforce that message. That’s the secret to building a bar or restaurant brand.

Talk to a SCORE mentor for more help building your bar or restaurant’s brand.

About the author
Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky is president and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog
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712 H St NE PMB 98848
Washington, DC 20002

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