The Art of Leveraging Your Brand
Serving Up a Competitive Advantage
For service-based businesses, not only is the customer king, but their experience is at the foundation of your brand. You strive to deliver a positive experience with every customer interaction, but have you positioned your brand so it works as a powerful marketing tool to grow and retain business?
Take a moment and think about your restaurant’s brand and determine your competitive advantage, or more simply, what your restaurant stands for in contrast to your competitors. Essentially your brand is your restaurant’s “guarantee” to the customer. So what does your guarantee deliver? Are there extra steps your wait staff takes to make every customer interaction a positive one? How about your kitchen staff? And don’t forget to look at your suppliers—do their products match your expectations? After all, your suppliers’ brands and products reflect upon your own.
A common misconception is that building a great brand requires a lot of money. In reality, branding can be monetarily inexpensive; however it does require commitment, persistence and a roll-up-the-sleeves attitude. You must also be willing to examine all areas of your business to make sure you have harmony between your operations and your brand.
So how do you leverage your brand as a marketing tool without breaking the bank? Here are some ideas to help strengthen your brand and make it more valuable to your customers:
Put it on paper.
Think about the things that differentiate your restaurant from the competition. Why do customers come to you versus the competitors? What do customers think of your service? What steps can you take to exceed your customers’ expectations? After giving it some thought, create a brand proposition. Put on paper your “guarantees” to your customers. Let them know what they can expect from your business by including it on menus or hanging it in your reception area.
Once you have your brand on paper—you can call it a pledge, a vow or a promise versus a brand proposition—share it with your entire staff, as well as your customers. For example, highlight it on your website or use social media outlets and blogs to remind people of your dedication to service. Tell them why you are different from the competition.
Be innovative. Look at the things you print regularly—menus, fax cover sheets, business cards, signage. Can you add your brand statement (just one or two sentences to them, tops!)? Be creative and think about other forms of customer contact—your host station, your telephone greetings. Why not add your promise to these touch-points as well? Do you sell (or give away) coffee mugs or other logo items? If so, slide a piece of paper into them with your brand statement and a personal message. If you are a restaurant that sends out emails or newsletters to your loyal customers, publish your brand proposition there too. It also never hurts to feature critical acclaim or quotes from media reviews (as long as they support your brand!). This can help remind customers about your dedication to service and customer experience.
Sure, you live your restaurant’s brand, but does your staff? Keep it in front of your employees by talking about service at each staff meeting and training session. Remind them the value of the brand and what it means for your restaurant’s business. Invite staff feedback and motivate them so they feel vested in your restaurant’s success.
Your brand is an invaluable tool in your marketing arsenal. Get it out there, promote it and let it work to your advantage. | THOUGHT LEADERSHIP LIBERTY NORTHWEST
About Liberty Northwest
Liberty Northwest is the Northwest’s largest private workers’ compensation insurer and is a leading property and casualty company. Since 1983, Liberty Northwest has partnered with the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) to provide members with insurance programs tailored to the hospitality industry’s needs. Today, the ORLA endorsed programs cover more than 1,000 ORLA members and have saved participants over $90 million in insurance costs. Contact your independent insurance agent or call Liberty Northwest at 800.463.6381 and see how Liberty Northwest can help your business.