Why my family uses branding to choose cafes

June 08 2023

In our family, when we’re looking for a cafe or restaurant to eat at, logo design makes up about 80% of the decision.

But generally it seems unfair to the other businesses. What if there’s amazing food at the other places?

Well, this rule gets put to the test a handful of times a year. Because when I’m hungry, I mean hangry, my decision-making goes out the window, and I usually choose the closest place. 

The last time I did this, I was in Melbourne with my 4 year old son Woody. I knew I was on the edge of cafe-finding ability so thought I’d go for a safe option- dumplings.

So I found this place, Drumps. Look at the logo below. It’s clearly a modern take on a dumpling restaurant. But the red got my attention in my heightened food-finding state.

Bright and colourful menu for a dumpling restaurant

Now read the menu. Umm what?! 

This might look delicious to some of you! No judgement. And that is why the branding is important. Because it signifies the overall vibe and quality and price of a business- on this day I was blinded by hunger and ignored the signs (literally) that this wasn’t a place I would love.

Anyway I ordered the most familiar dumplings I could find, pork and prawn. Woody ate half of one then told me *very loudly* that the food is disgusting. I was so hungry I ate his and mine, and then thanked the staff profusely because I felt bad for them.

And yes it will be at least 6 months before I let my stomach decide over my design-instinct.

But we all have an instinct for design.

It can be hard for business-owners to see their own branding objectively. You have particular associations with it, but over time associations change in your audience, so it’s important to think about how potential customers or clients see you now. 

Here are 3 parts of your branding that impact decision-making

Photo of coffee cup on table with a sausage dog image on it
1) Trends

People are either drawn to new trends, repelled by them, or indifferent. Which category does your ideal customer fall into? Drawn to them? Then you need look relevant and current (not necessarily ‘trendy’ but at a minimum not dated, preferably utilising one trend in an intentional way that has meaning for your business.

Are they repelled by them? Then you need to look like timeless in some way. Or rebellious, or the opposite of the trend they don’t follow.

Are they indifferent? Then find out what they do care about. Quality? Budget? Then look like the quality and budget they want to spend on.

2) Price sensitivity

When you want to go out for a fancy dinner, you likely won’t choose a restaurant that resembles fast food branding. Unless they’re doing it in a specifically cool way! 

Likewise, when you’re on a tighter budget, you will pick up on restaurants that look too expensive. Subtle or timeless colour palettes, thinner fonts, lots of luxurious textures on the interior design. So you want to look like the quality and budget your audience is ready to spend on.

3) Motifs and images

How do you feel about yin yang symbols, monstera leaves, gerberas and paisley? 

It will depend on things like how old you are, what kinds of trends you follow or rebel against, and what experiences you had when these things were ‘in’ will impact whether you love them or not. Over time, the meaning or associations of motifs and images change, so take a cultural temperature check of your branding and imagery/logos/motifs every few years and update them if they miss the mark.

Your design-instinct was tickled or kicked reading that list of motifs. For me, I’m tired of seeing monstera leaves, so this will tell me a business was too on-trend about 5 years ago. Yin yangs are back because 90’s fashion is back. But it’s not back for everyone! Not for me! I love gerberas, but a biz bestie hates them. Work out what your audience has strong feelings about and appeal to it.

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Photo of Candice leaning against a textured white wall in the sunshine and smiling. She has long curly hair and a colourful jacket on.

Candice is the founder of Design Salad, a strategy loving design studio helping climate-consious women business owners shine brighter than ever before.

Design Salad specialises in thoughtful brand strategy and unique brand identities infused with artistry. 

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