Four steps to creating an influential food brand

Design Ranch in Kansas City helped wholesaler ZoZoi communicate its unique personality to customers.

So, you want your clients to understand your brand and eat it up?

A great food brand is more than a logo—it’s an experience. Branding is the first impression, the last impression and everything in between. From the moment customers see your logo, to the second they lean back happy in their chair, you must make the experience complete and flawlessly cohesive. Yes, the concept is important. Yes, the logo is important. Yes, the menu and packaging design is important. But they all play into the bigger idea—a brand personality that keeps people coming back.

Creating a compelling brand is truly a complex monster, but for the purposes of this article, let’s knock it out in four simple steps.

1. The right ingredients

Assemble the dream team. We’ve seen the best results when designers, architects, chefs and visionaries all work hand in hand.

At the risk of sounding self-serving: Hire professionals. We know, we know … the hardest part as a business owner is letting go. But a good designer knows how to help you realize your vision, and a good entrepreneur knows where his or her expertise ends.

On that note, set aside a budget that is realistic. Good design takes time and therefore costs money. That doesn’t mean you can’t be creative and resourceful with the execution. In actuality, working with a professional means more bang for your buck. You’ll get way more thinking and strategy out of your brand than a logo cobbled together by Cousin Jeanie who took a class in Adobe Illustrator that one time.

2. Spice it up!

Get ready to stretch your comfort zone because there is no cookie-cutter formula for branding. If it feels comfortable, it’s been done before. If your goal is to stand out on a shelf in an oversaturated market (and it should be) you must do things differently. Give that envelope a big ol’ push.

Remember, you’re branding a whole experience. Name, logo, packaging, menu—each touchpoint should bring out the best flavors in your brand. But don’t forget to sprinkle in some memorable moments.

3. Say Something! (But don’t talk with your mouth full)

Language is key to food branding. A pretty face—beautiful photos, cool logo, outstanding design—will get you so far, but if you can carry on a good conversation, you’re sure to be invited to the best parties.

There are ways to infuse your personality into a brand by speaking as loud as a tagline, or as subtly as a disclaimer on a menu. One mistake brands often make is being too literal, saying too much without actually saying anything. “My brand is great! We do this and this and this.” SNOOZE. Avoid TMI and weed out the industry speak. Give your brand a unique voice, without oversharing.

3. Come again soon!

A brand’s work is never done. The goal of a food business brand should be to leave your customer satisfied, but excited for their next visit or experience.

Every interaction with your brand should be a seamless one. Whether it was the clever name of today’s special, or the mint you tossed in your purse on the way out the door, a brand should be engrained as a positive memory. Your customers should understand who you are and what you do best.

Fit their flavor profile, and they’ll be back for more.

This article originally appeared in Thinking Bigger Business Media