By Richard Samarasinghe, Head of Business Development at Harrison
The world moves rapidly and the past 18 months demonstrates this more starkly than ever.
As consumer needs and social distancing constraints drive new customer journeys as we all adjust to the ‘new’ normal, restaurants, bars, and hotels reassess their brand and how it will need to evolve to meet future market needs, remain relevant and differentiated. Businesses should make changes, however small, to remain relevant and compelling, for example, by updating how you communicate your values and beliefs, what you are saying and how your products and services will need to evolve.
To compete restaurants, bars, and hotels need strong branding that has the stamina, flexibility, and creative flair to stand out, remain relevant, build loyalty and potentially take advantage of new opportunities to grow in the hospitality sector – we all know that this is going to become more challenging as this change accelerates.
Brand evolution is usually more about smaller changes through incremental innovations that reflect evolving market conditions, and changing customer needs – for example, updating your menu so it is line with food and drink trends and issues such as social distancing, looking after the wellbeing of your teams and your customers.
We’ve provided our top tips on the dos and don’ts of this brand evolution:
- Do build a strong foundation – You should always remain true to what your business stands for, and update your branding around these core values. However, company codes should not be buzzwords, but principles you follow and reminders about why your business was born, what it offers, and what makes it stand out. Starbucks, for example, is a global phenomenon yet remains anchored to creating a warm culture where everyone is welcome. Your core values should be constant but flexible within certain brand guardrails, so your business can grow and adapt to market conditions whist staying true to its essence.
- Do look at customer aspirations – When refreshing your business, look at how your consumers see the world and how can you best meet these visions, creating something just for them. For example, we know more people are eating out looking for personalised experiences and to socialise with friends and family, equally more people than ever are eating out for fuel – as a hospitality enterprise, your brand should reflect these aspirations, so you can continue attracting customers and remain relevant
- Do consider all customer touchpoints – Branding should seep through all areas of a business that a consumer encounters. Re-examine the consumer’s whole journey – from the moment they open the door, walk to their table, and even visit the toilets, and ensure your branding carries through – from the design, the menu, customer service, and even recruitment and training.
- Do mature with your customers – Consumers don’t always remain loyal to one brand and can be unpredictable. Growing with your current customer base can add to your business’ competitive edge and help it to endure. Think about the changing demand of millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1997. This demographic experienced a more sophisticated range of food service concepts, with emphasis on authenticity, quality, healthier choices, and greater food credibility, and will likely continue to demand these values as they grow into a family market. If your business doesn’t meet their changing needs, you’re in danger of appearing unattractive to the next generation of young families.
- The impact of technology – For all hospitality businesses the interaction between the server and guest is part of the whole experience, and for these brands, technology if used in the wrong way could in fact alienate your customers.
- Don’t forget about your employees – The key to any brand surviving is employing talented individuals, who can provide a fresh outlook and inject innovation. When reviewing your brand, you should also appeal to current and future employees, emphasising who you are, the direction the business is heading in and its future prospects.
To navigate changing consumer mind-sets, your business’ branding needs to be evolve with them, while remaining loyal to its core values so it endures. By evaluating your brand every year and making incremental changes every two years, it signals to customers and stakeholders that your business is moving forward as well as communicating both visually and verbally the right information to stand out from its competitors.
We specialise in creating and evolving brands that are under pinned by authenticity and a clear DNA, why no drop us a line or email us. www.harrison.hn