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


3 Keys For Effective Restaurant Branding


Whether an established restaurant or a brand new opening, here are 3 keys that are essential for effective branding.

While these keys apply to any industry, Longitude works frequently in the restaurant industry and we will look at these keys from that angle.


1. Accuracy

When deciding the look and feel for your restaurant, the first thing to do is establish what type you are and what makes you unique. What is the personality of the restaurant? Is your restaurant appealing to the 20-year-old hipster, the family with young kids, or the senior citizen looking for a good deal? Identifying your target audience is important to determine how to position your branding accurately.

I have seen very high-end restaurants with branding that implies fast and cheap. There are many factors –price, menu, target audience, speed of service – that make up who you are.

A quick glance at your signage, website, social media, etc., should accurately represent the experience the customer can expect.


2. Creativity

Your branding may be accurate, but just as important is creativity. Design influences buying decisions. When people are deciding on trying a new restaurant they need to be compelled through a creative logo and brand.

Good food or great service isn’t enough — those are a given. Every place needs something unique that only they can do and this must be communicated creatively through the branding.

First impressions are a huge part of gaining new customers. They will encounter your brand before ever tasting your food or giving you a shot at earning their business.

Is your brand identity interesting and inviting, or is it cliche, boring and forgettable?


3. Consistency

Once you’ve worked to create an accurate and unique brand, it has to be executed consistently. Most larger chains understand the importance of this, but many independent restaurants struggle.

A brand style guide or brand guideline document is something that should be developed. This will establish a foundation in order for everything to be executed consistently.

Any campaign or touch point with your audience should point back to the brand visually.

Starbucks can introduce new campaigns and products in creative and new ways but still looking unmistakably like Starbucks. The Starbucks visual identity has been executed consistently for so long that it is burned into our subconscious. In order to be remembered, you have to be consistent.


Is your brand identity lacking in one of these areas?

Longitude works with restaurants to create accurate, creative and consistent brand identities that bring long-term value to the business.

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