If there’s one thing we recognize at Six Degrees LA, it’s that feeling good about where you eat is a must for all people. Shockingly, food tastes better when you’re not having an identity crisis and guilt isn’t choking you up! It may seem simple, but during our many years in restaurant branding, especially as a LA marketing agency with a whole range of clients, we’ve learned time and time again that the dining choices customers make reflect their emotions, desires, and yes—sometimes politics— rather than simply deciding on a food price point. To help make this more complex call, they rely on a perception of a brand from start to finish.
This past week, big restaurant branding headlines coming from Tom Colicchio’s Fowler & Wells in Manhattan and Brad Greenhill’s Katoi in Corktown, Detroit have brought the issue of naming and social responsibility to the forefront. As the NYT and Eater reported, both restaurants have come under heavy criticism for problematic monikers; their historical and cultural implications weighed on the conscience of customers and critics and, ultimately, lead to a need to re-name in order to remain loyal to the brand vision .
And then of course there’s the grumblings over Dunkin Donuts, who are playing the name-game in their own corporate way. Sometimes it’s hard not to throw up your hands and roll your eyes (Come on guys, you sell donuts— everyone knows you sell donuts), but this news cycle just confirms that ethics, ethos, and the bottom-line all drive choices to try and better represent a restaurant to a customer.
We won’t get political and dwell on whether motivations are always pure (because it’s a Monday and no one needs that kind of suffering) but as a LA marketing agency we know that branding extends beyond a name and into skills we’ve mastered— like restaurant logo design and photography revamps— and each element must reflect the brand identity. Usually the situation isn’t as extreme as the issues getting recent press attention, but our role is the same.
Clients come to us when they recognize a disconnect between where they see themselves and where customers see them, and we use strategy, aesthetics, and brand messaging to help create an experience that each guest can feel good about.
Don’t get us wrong, the big name on the sign is important. The one moniker lives beyond every medium, making it the single lasting impression of a brand. But if picking a whole new name feels like an insurmountable logistical nightmare (To-Go bag reprint? Legal footer EVERYWHERE? Bartender pocket squares, anyone?), that’s where we step in and help make adjustments to a brand identity through a whole spectrum of elements. We’ve helped with everything from VIP fundraisers to community murals to sticking logos on Magic 8 balls.
If you have the slightest inkling that you may want a name change, it should be addressed immediately. “Sooner-rather-than-later” couldn’t ring more true (Tom Colicchio and Brad Greenhill would agree, we think). There are tools we can employ to explore the possibility, from market research to guest surveys. Analytics + our instincts can help you be sure your company is making the responsible call.
Can’t wait for the data? Check out our “When Restaurant Branding Should Happen” infographic that takes our signature tongue-in-cheek approach to answering the pesky question.
In any case, fixing a perception problem starts with finding a partner that can handle the logistical and creative heat. Let’s talk— before the angry tweets roll in and well before the pain of chiseling out logos on all those beautiful engraved maple cutting boards.