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Branding for restaurant is, fundamentally, is how your guest feels when they are in your restaurant.  That's one of the five senses. Last month I was asked to teach a small class of grad students.  They are trying to develop their own entreprenerial businesses. The professor needed a tangible examples to show students how you build a brand. She asked me to show them how restaurants, and the five senses fit together and form a brand. Fitting those senses together can be incredibly effective, since restaurants have a look, smell, sound, taste and a feel. The interior creates that. Marketing reflects that.  What does your guests smell, see, taste, hear and touch when they come into your restaurant?  If you take the time to make sure the senses match what you intended your restaurant to be, you will be pleased with the results. When you take an active approach of each sense, you discover the senses guide your decisions.  When you take an active approach of each sense, you discover that the sum of the parts makes a fantastic brand. You sharpen your brand to be understood by your consumer, more quickly.  Here are two examples that will explain how the five senses and your restaurant's brand align.  

sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch

sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch


From the moment you approach Fiat Cafe you pick up so many senses.  The look: Fiat Cars, which implies an Italian life, with wind in your hair!  The feel: tables and chairs are brief, tidy and modern. All red and black, which matches the interior of a Fiat. The smell: Italian pasta dishes, in a busy city. Taste:  again, pasta, fresh bread, olive oil. What do you hear: There is a very quiet background music, but the space is filled with the sounds of spoken italian, busy conversation, and the busy vibe of any metropolitan city--Roma, Vinenzia, Firenze or NY. And the touch: that makes all the senses come together.  The touch in one form in the hospitality, staff greets you warmly, invites you in, brings your glass of wine quickly.  And touch in another form is your comfort in the space.  The chairs are comfy, appealing to the eye. 


Iris Cafe in Willowtown, Brooklyn is a great example of honing their look and feel.  This place has been on my radar as an amazing independent restaurant for a long, long time.  Here are some pictures, to help your senses kick in: 

The senses are strong enough to kick in as you look at those pictures!  Let's just run through the senses quickly.  You can:

see the warmth of the wood--and there are many versions of wood--the tree in the corner, the wood floors, the wooden table surfaces, and the wooden chairs.  

feel the warmth of the surroundings. the warmth of that breakfast and the latte.  It's appealing

taste the food, from the pictures.  Imagine how much better it is in person ... and that's there point: come in, taste our food, cocktails and espressos.  

hear even through these pictures you can conjure what this place sounds like.  The espresso machine, steaming milk, the echo of the servers steps, background music that you hear but doesn't interrupt you thoughts. 

smell the food. Of course that is always the goal--that guest love the smell, get a little hungrier than when they came in, and that the smells are matched with your own meals' smells. 


Your restaurant has it's own look, feel, taste, smell and sound, whether you intended it or not.  Hopefully you planned that well.  How can you change your brand to better serve your mission?  Gather a couple of your staff members and have everyone read this article. Then ask how you can make the five senses meet your guests better--in your marketing, and in your restaurant. If you really want to move to change the look and feel, then set up a regular bi-weekly meeting with 2 -4 people, and start digging in.  Create the change you want to be!

FULL DISCLOSURE.  Blogs are short. Blogs are not filled with complex thoughts. Fact is, this topic of five senses leads to a deeper conversation on how branding reflects the Archetype your business creates.  I will be explaining Archetypes in my course on branding. Here are the courses I offer now