Restaurant graphics: More important than you think? (Part 1)

| by S.A. Whitehead
Restaurant graphics: More important than you think? (Part 1)

Northern California-based Dabba, and its CEO, Andy Mercy had a problem. The space that the counter-service restaurant was moving into was a little weird with its soaring 25-foot glass-topped ceiling and a long, narrow space below for the dining area. In short, it was a pretty cool space, if Mercy could make it echo the quirky, progressive, healthful brand that revolves around a menu that its founders call "ethic confusion."

Mercy wanted a large mural for the 85-foot by 25-foot interior wall that would:
•    Represent and bring to life the brand's healthy, global,bold brand.
•    Be an original work as unique as the brand, not a reproduction of another concept.
•    Be cost-effective, so the brand could reproduce it and scale as it grows.

After vetting three graphics firms, Mercy said he settled on Speedpro Imaging because it provided the best combination of services, including its overall input on the process, color sampling, scheduling and price. It designed a big, warm, brand-mirroring graphic that was perfect for that long thin wall that Mercy wanted to cover.

"The mural serves as a work of art, a homing beacon and a reflection of our customers' values," Mercy said. "As customers approach our space from outside, the first thing they see is the bright orange mural with orbital shapes glowing through the wall of windows. It welcomes them in and signals that the space and food will be interesting and bold. 

"The mural encourages the customer to look up, to stretch their necks and change their perspective. Our (customers) are hard-working, often at desks staring at screens for a large part of each day. They are also adventurous people who love to eat and explore, take care of themselves and appreciate all that the world has to offer. Our mural helps them feel transported, represents their values and helps our guests connect with our space and each other."

Although Mercy said SpeedPros input was essential to the process, it's also clear that he had a clear idea of what his brand is, who is customer is and how he wanted graphics to play a role in conveying those messages. 

He understood the importance of using brand-connecting graphics and signage, which is imperative to creating ambiance and connecting with customers and employees, according to a  report from the Economics Center at the University of Cincinnati for the Signage Foundation. It found that the:

•    No. 1 purpose of signage is to help customers "find" businesses. 
•    Legibility was the top signage content concern of customers and business operators. 
•    Signs can boost sales with 60 percent of businesses reporting a 10 percent sales increase after sign improvements.
•    Signs can help hiring with about one-quarter of businesses reporting increased hiring after signage improvements.  
•    Higher sign quality can reflect better business performance, according to case studies.  
•    Signs that communicate value and exclusivity are particularly helpful to small business. 
•    Signage should reflect overall community standards. 

With those findings in mind, tomorrow we'll dig a little more deeply into expert advice on how restaurateurs can begin the process of evaluating current graphics and signage and how to make business-enhancing improvements. 

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Food & Beverage, Marketing

S.A. Whitehead

Award-winning veteran print and broadcast journalist, Shelly Whitehead, has spent most of the last 30 years reporting for TV and newspapers, including the former Kentucky and Cincinnati Post and a number of network news affiliates nationally. She brings her cumulative experience as a multimedia storyteller and video producer to the web-based pages of and after a lifelong “love affair” with reporting the stories behind the businesses that make our world go ‘round. Ms. Whitehead is driven to find and share news of the many professional passions people take to work with them every day in the pizza and quick-service restaurant industry. She is particularly interested in the growing role of sustainable agriculture and nutrition in food service worldwide and is always ready to move on great story ideas and news tips.

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