If you are starting to notice that the activity at your restaurant is starting to cool down, or that your customers are less and less excited about what you have to offer, then you’re probably looking for ways to turn this trend around. If you’re finding that you have to try harder and harder to get people through the door, or that more of your customers are there simply because of the coupons, then it might be time for you to consider a more drastic approach–a rebranding.

What is Rebranding?

Rebranding is more than just giving your restaurant a makeover or coming up with a new logo. When you rebrand, you rethink your entire restaurant from the ground up. New decorations are a part of it, yes, but a rebranding covers so much more. A whole new theme means new food, new menus, new uniforms, new atmosphere: basically, a whole new place.

If this sounds like something that you would be interested in, you should know that a rebrand should not be done lightly. Before you pull the trigger on it, there are some questions you need to ask yourself that can help you figure out exactly where your restaurant stands.

Questions to ask

Concept for confusion, question or solution

1) .Why are we losing customers?

If you’re asking yourself this question as part of a rebranding strategy, then you probably think you already know the answer. However, it’s important to make sure that it’s really the brand that is the issue. How is your food? Are your prices too high?  Do you have frequent customer complaints?  If so, then a full rebrand might not be the right strategy. However, if you can’t pinpoint a specific reason for a drop in sales or customer excitement, it could be your entire restaurant is starting to feel tired and worn out.

2) What do customers think about us?

This is an important question, as it can go a long way towards knowing where your current brand strategy is going wrong. If a customer tells you they didn’t know your restaurant offered a specific food or service, then that’s a sign that your branding is not being communicated well. Any move you make going forward needs to take this lack of communication into account.

3) How long has it been since we’ve updated?

If it has been a long time since you’ve updated your restaurant’s brand, then that’s a sure sign that it’s time for a change–customers don’t want to go to a restaurant and pay premium prices for a place that feels like it did a decade ago. And speaking of prices …

4) Are we having to lower prices to draw in customers?

Lowering prices, offering specials, and relying on coupons is a sure sign that people aren’t excited about coming to your restaurant anymore. A strong brand can command top dollar.

If It’s Time …

Clock in grass. Daylight saving time concept.

If the answers to these questions are making it obvious that a change is in order, then what are you waiting for? The longer it takes to start, the more your customers are going to head somewhere else. But, how should you do it? Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1) Do your research

Before you change anything, you need to gather as much information as possible. What are your restaurant’s strengths?  What do your loyal customers still love? You don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak. Getting rid of those things that already make your brand special, unique, or loved will only serve to anger a loyal fanbase.

2) Look at the competition

While doing your research, make sure you take the time to see what’s already out there. Why offer people more of the same, if there’s already too much of it? Even more importantly: what isn’t out there right now? Find that need, and then fill it.

3) Have a clear vision

Rebranding only works when the focus is clear. From the very start, it is vital that you clarify what the new brand of your restaurant is going to be. This is not a piece-meal proposition–it must be a consistent vision across all aspects of your restaurant. Otherwise, it simply won’t work.

4) Make sure everyone is committed

Rebranding must involve everyone. Owners, managers, waitstaff, busboys–if they are involved in the day-to-day operations of the restaurant, than they are a part of the rebrand and have a role to play.

5) Communicate to your customers

All of this is happening to get customers through the door, so how are they going to come if they don’t know what’s going on? No rebranding strategy is complete without a marketing campaign. Buy airtime to advertise. Use social media. Have a special event to launch your restaurant’s new era.  Get people through the door!

6) Don’t forget the digital side!

Remember, your digital presence is just as important now as your physical presence. Have an attractive website and an active social media presence to make sure your restaurant is staying fresh in people’s minds.