Is Bad Visual Branding Turning Away Potential Customers?

Article Originally Published on FoodableTV

It’s a chilling thought, isn’t it? You work so hard to make sure that every area of your restaurant is thriving, but you may be turning away potential customers with poor visual branding.

Your brand identity is often the first touchpoint with potential customers. Before they taste your food, experience your service, or step foot in your environment, they will see your branding. Your exterior signage, website, and social media presence are often the first encounters with your brand. They will form an opinion from that first impression.

It is vitally important to make sure that you are representing yourself accurately, creatively, and consistently. Your visual branding must pique interest and instill trust in order to earn the opportunity to make them a loyal customer.

Here are five mistakes that can turn away potential customers:

Poor Quality

People do judge books by their covers — especially today’s visually-driven consumer. How a potential customer perceives your restaurant will be influenced by the quality of your brand visuals. Does your brand show that you put great care and effort into what you do? Does it instill trust? Or was it done in a hurry and with little thought?

Developing an effective brand identity is one of the best investments you can make. Hire a professional designer or team to develop your brand visuals. You get what you pay for. If it’s cheap, it will show.

Brands that are intentional with a strong visual design stand out and pique interest. If you give the wrong first impression with poor quality branding, you may miss out on the chance to win a loyal customer.

Wrong Message

Have you ever seen a logo that completely misrepresented the company? There is a construction company I pass on my way to work whose logo communicates the wrong message. It’s a nice looking logo, but instead of communicating “Trustworthy Construction Contractor.” it says “Expensive Brazilian Restaurant.” This is an extreme example, but we see this in subtle ways all the time.

Check out this example:
Example of how a typeface can affect your perception
Besides making you hungry for a burger, the above example shows you how your perception of quality, style, and price is affected by a simple typeface change. When you consider adding color, size, and other variations, you can really see how much visuals impact our perception.

Our brains pick up on so many subtle cues when processing images. A professional designer will know how to leverage these nuances to help tell your story accurately. Who is your target audience? What makes you unique? Make sure that your visual branding communicates who you are to the right audience.

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What Is Brand Identity And Why Does It Matter?

What is brand identity?

You may hear the term “brand identity” and have a vague idea, but not a clear understanding of what that means. You’re not alone. Most people couldn’t give an explanation of what a brand identity is. It involves the logo, so why not just say logo design? There is a big difference. My goal is to help you understand the difference and how it impacts your bottom line.

When you think of Coca-Cola, do you picture their logo? Probably, but you also think of red and white, script lettering, brown, fizzy liquid, bubbles, a brown bottle, happy faces, refreshment, and joy.

We could go on and on with examples — brands such as McDonalds, Nike, Target, Starbucks and others that have invested in developing a complete brand identity and reaped the reward of recognition, association, and loyalty.

A brand identity is the combination of the visual elements including the name, logo, tagline, voice, color palette, image style, typography, textures & patterns, iconography, packaging and collateral.

All of these elements work together to form a visual system. An effective brand identity must be implemented creatively and consistently over a period of time to make an impact on people’s minds.


Some of the elements designed for the Mollaga brand.

What makes a brand identity effective?

1. Accuracy. Does your branding communicate the right message about who you are and what you offer?

2. Creativity. Does your branding pique interest or is it just a bland, cliche and forgettable?

3. Consistency. Does your branding look the same everywhere it’s applied? Does it form a cohesive, intentional look that people can come to recognize and appreciate?

Whether or not you’ve ever thought about this or put any focus on it, your restaurant has a brand identity. It may not be truly representative of your values and it may not be consistent, but it’s there. You broadcast it to your potential customers every day. Logo, website, business cards, stationery, collateral, signage, social media posts, etc. Whatever is out there, be it accidental or intentional, is how your brand is represented to potential customers.

For more on this, read 3 Ingredients of an Effective Restaurant Brand Identity.

Can brand identity affect the bottom line?

Many times a potential customer will see your logo and branding before they set foot in your location, taste your food or talk to your staff. It is the first touchpoint in converting the general public into a loyal customer. Whether or not they give you the chance will be greatly affected by your branding.

The average person is bombarded with around 3,000 brands every day. That seems like an overwhelming number to compete with. The good news is that there is a very small percentage of restaurants that are actually designed well. When you see a restaurant with an interesting brand, it stands out.

If your competitors are doing well here, then you can’t afford not to invest here. If your competitors aren’t doing well here, then you have that much more to gain from your investment. In either case, you have an opportunity to connect with potential customers and build trust and loyalty by developing an accurate, creative and consistent brand identity.

Think of it this way

Imagine someone sets two plates of food in front of you. On the right, you have a clean bright white plate with beautifully arranged food that is full of color.  On the left, you have a dirty old plate with the same food piled together haphazardly. I’m not a psychologist, but I’ll bet 10 out of 10 people will pick the one with the better presentation. (Even though they may taste the exact same.)

The presentation is huge. If a potential customer doesn’t perceive you to be interesting and trustworthy, they won’t give you a chance.

Next Step

Take some time to evaluate your current logo and brand identity elements. Does it accurately communicate who you are? Is it creative and memorable? Is there consistency in all of your brand touchpoints?


See Examples of Brand Identities Developed by Longitude


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