The restaurant industry is expected to reach $863 billion in sales in 2019—and it’s up to individual operators to determine how big their slice of the pie is. Providing quality food and service creates invaluable word-of-mouth marketing, but there’s something many restaurants owners and marketers overlook when it comes to driving business: signage. When potential patrons are considering where to eat, they need to first find the restaurant, and then be drawn indoors with appealing signage.
From fast food to fast casual, the right signs and visual graphics can help heat up business. Here are some tips for determining the right signage for your restaurant, both inside and out.
2 of 7
Communicate who you are
The first thing to do is to determine the messaging and visual branding style. A contemporary restaurant has a very different feel than an older, historical establishment, and the signs and graphics seen throughout typically reflect that. Whether planning signage for a new restaurant or rebranding an established concept, ensure that the signs and graphics reflect the personality of the brand by using a typestyle, colors, photographs and words in ways that represent the restaurant. Exterior signage should give diners an idea of what to expect inside.
3 of 7
Start with the outside
Put the restaurant name or logo on the building or space and, if in a shopping center, on the pylon sign. Use appealing graphics in the windows. If the restaurant is off the beaten path, like in the back of a shopping plaza or a down a flight of stairs, utilize signage to help customers find the entrance. Customers care about findability and will choose to go somewhere else if they can’t easily locate a business. Use clear language and arrows, and don’t be afraid to ask for customer feedback and make changes if the original solution isn’t working.
4 of 7
Add illumination to stand out at night
The right lighting in and on the building, and on the signs, can help customers quickly know which establishments are open for business and help draw them in, whether the restaurant is in a downtown area, shopping plaza, or off an exit on the highway. Illuminated lighting can be placed on the exterior of the building or at the entrance to the parking lot. Digital signs, window lighting and backlit frames can also be used to add an extra eye-catching element.
5 of 7
Continue the customer experience indoors
When customers are in the restaurant, the signs and graphics in place can help enhance their overall experience. To reduce perceived waiting time in a fast-casual setting, digital menu boards and kiosks located near waiting areas can promote specials, show off menu items and entice viewers to try new offerings. Frosted vinyl or graphics on glass partitions and half-walls help create privacy between booths and tables. Wall graphics and murals extend the branding to the interior decor. For a unique touch, consider wrapping table tops. While patrons are waiting for their food at their tables or drinks at the bar, printed table tents can list upcoming holiday hours, promote special events, or advertise day-of-the-week specials.
6 of 7
Taking the Message to the Street
Promoting a restaurant outside of its four walls is equally important. Having branded catering vehicles and wearables including shirts and hats, and participating in off-premise community events with a booth or a food truck are just a few of the ways to take your message and your food to the street. One of the most visual tactics is using vehicle graphics to provide a professional look that helps restaurants reach new and existing customers on-the-go with branded graphics.
7 of 7
Hire an Expert
Of course, you’ll get the best result by hiring an expert. From local marketing agencies to companies that specialize in providing signs and visual graphics, engaging the right company can help alleviate some of the work while you focus on running your business.
Drue Townsend is Senior Vice-President, Marketing, at FASTSIGNS International, Inc., the leading sign, graphics and visual communications franchise with over 700 locations in nine countries. FASTSIGNS locations provide comprehensive signage and visual graphic solutions to help companies of all sizes and across all industries attract more attention, communicate their message, promote their products, help visitors find their way and extend their branding across all of their customer touch points.