making dough with Diane: Six strategies for building brand recognition

Diane Chiasson
July 15, 2009
A brand makes a statement of what your business is all about. It conveys quality, consistency, familiarity and trust. During a recession, this comfort and familiarity is what people crave. Nowadays, people want to go someplace that they recognize, know exactly what to expect and how much they will pay for it.

Developing a strong brand, especially for a pizza operation, is a huge part of your success. For example, a company like Pizza Pizza is incredibly successful mainly due to the phone number that everyone can remember and is conveniently stuck in their brain when they pick up the phone to order a pizza.

Branding isn’t just about a memorable logo or a catchy slogan; it is about your entire business and culture. Developing a strong brand is an essential component to the success of any restaurant or foodservice operation.

But, before you start thinking about that catchy slogan that will have millions of people singing your song, you need to rewind to the beginning and think about where you want your pizza operation to be in the next few years or even the next few decades. Are you planning on staying independent or do you want to franchise? Who is your target market and where do you see yourself in the marketplace? How will you differentiate yourself from your competition? What promise are you trying to make to your customers about your product?

A strong brand image will bring your company added value, command higher prices and attract better employees. Most of all it will bring you more money, so it is not a topic that should be taken lightly. Here are six ideas for you to think about before you begin building your brand recognition strategy.

1. Target the right audience
Do not try to create a brand that will appeal to everyone. You will end up with a brand that is unclearly defined. Target your brand to the specific demographics to which your pizza operation appeals. Is your neighbourhood more family-friendly or full of students? Do young, busy, urban professionals surround you? Are there a lot of offices nearby? You need to cater your brand image to the right crowd.

2. Build positive brand recognition
Define your brand using as few words as possible and drive your definition to your customers. You should be able to tell potential customers exactly what to expect from your pizza operation by stringing together a few key words. For example, Papa John’s uses four simple words to describe its operation: “Better ingredients. Better pizza”, while Pizza Hut simply says, “Gather ‘round the good stuff”. These key phrases immediately bring to mind a delicious pizza that you really want to eat.

3. Be consistent with your brand
Everything in your pizza operation must convey what your brand wants to say, including your interior design and décor, menu, prices, food, drinks, uniforms, marketing, advertising, website and customer service.
Developing a powerful brand image involves the entire restaurant design from lighting and flooring to powerful graphic images and menu boards. Ensure that everything is consistent in look, feel and colours. Have a recognizable style that is not only apparent inside your establishment, but also outside, online and in print.

4. Deliver on what your brand promises
The most important element of branding is being able to deliver on what your brand is promising. For example, if you say that you offer fast and free delivery for your pizza, make sure that it’s fast and free! You need to gain the trust and loyalty of customers by standing by your brand name and what it offers.

5. Create merchandise with your brand and slogan
Once you have established your brand, you can build on it by offering retail merchandise that features your brand name and slogan, especially if you have a particularly witty slogan with double meanings. One pizza restaurant in the U.S., has the slogan “I get it every night” which launched its t-shirt sales operation. Other items to consider include glassware, candies, aprons or magnets. The possibilities are endless, and the merchandise also acts as free advertising for your restaurant.

6. Use POS materials to promote your brand
Signage and POS materials are key to developing more instant recognition to your brand. Use POS materials to highlight upcoming specials and promotions, but make sure that your brand logo and slogan are featured prominently. It is important to create visually stimulating materials so that your customers will remember the images even after they have left your pizza operation.

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 25 years. She provides innovative food and retail merchandising programs, interior design, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at1-888-926-6655 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit .

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