A brand is a promise, not something that happens after mountains of money have been poured into advertising. While there are many dimensions to a brand promise, a core area to address is the set of promises made with regard to the menu design.
Menu Design: Conveying the Brand Promise
One of the most recognizable menu brand promises is the Chipotle “Food with Integrity” mantra. This concept of food with integrity permeates through all areas of the company from purchasing methodology to packaging. It is a great illustration of how a positioning strategy, brand personality, brand promise and brand story all culminate together to render a very commercially appealing and successful restaurant brand.
There are many other examples of how a brand promise has influenced menu design strategy but another example I like to use is a Florida-based seafood restaurant (multi-concept operator) who makes a promise of fresh seafood.
Since every seafood restaurant promises fresh seafood, saying that alone is an toothless promise – it’s more just the token to get in to the game than a unique brand promise or positioning attribute. So, to raise the stakes and put more meat on their promise, they print on the menu the name of the vessel that caught the fish and even the depth of water and location from where the fish was caught. Now that’s really making a promise that few others are willing to match. A bold and compelling promise gets attention.
Things to Look For
The closer the execution/delivery is to the publicly made promise the stronger the brand. As you endeavor to engineer, design and rollout your next new menu design, look for ways to more powerfully communicate your brand promise and personality.
Also look for inconsistencies of promises made and actual delivery on those promises. Sometimes, over periods of revisions and spans of time without focus on previous promises, an inadvertent drifting can occur that puts a wider gap between the promise and execution.
It is the job of all the stakeholders within the company to consistently monitor the relationship of promises made and promises kept. In the end, everyone within the company is proportionally responsible and rewarded.