• Transform magazine
  • February 04, 2023

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Hospitality branding: current trends and how branding can lead to venue success

Naomi Ross Headshot

Naomi Ross, director at Sydney-based social media, marketing and design agency Distil, discusses how branding might be one of the ways companies within the hospitality sector can stand out from competitors and garner long-term customer loyalty.

A brand is more than just a name. It is a gut feeling about a product, service or venue. Good branding can help you stand out from your competitors by being memorable and can help foster loyalty. Branding has evolved past just the look of your brand and moved into a new space which is more about what you stand for, how you act and the experiences you provide. It is this solid foundation that can in turn lead to venue success.

Your brand is a combination of your customer’s experience at every touchpoint. Every website or social media visit, the experience they receive if they call to book, the confirmation email they receive when they make a booking, all the way through to their experience in the venue. The menu, the names of your dishes, the venue itself, the lighting. Your brand is a combination of your customer’s experience at all of these.

With so much of our lives and brand consumption occurring in the digital space, it makes sense this is having a huge impact on the next generation of consumers (Gen Z); the digital natives who are reaching the legal age of drinking and going out to 18+ venues. They want to feel an authentic connection with the brands they like. This belief is driving one of the biggest trends we are seeing at the moment within the brand space; the way consumers are engaging with brands, and the level of account they are holding them to.

This trend isn’t only confined to Gen Zers, with consumers of all ages seeking brand authenticity and purpose. They are craving real content, behind the scenes sneak peaks, they want to know the real people behind the brands, behind the venues. A truthful narrative. The stories of the suppliers and the process behind the supply chain. They want to feel personally connected and feel like part of the brand’s community.

Stories on Meta (the short user generated photo and video content that can be viewed up to 24 hours after its posted before it disappears) have exploded, and Tik Tok has continued to rapidly rise in popularity over the past several months. Both of these platforms promote real, raw content rather than a purely curated and visually perfect feed.

With many hospitality businesses failing within the first three years, and with an increasingly saturated sector – branding is the primary way to be memorable and stand out from your competitors. There is so much choice within the food & beverage landscape and so many easy options in terms of delivery partners – especially in the major cities. Venues are not only competing against other venues, but also the easy, comfortable option of staying home on the couch, watching Netflix. Being true to you core offering, and then offering a consistent message across your various touchpoints, is going to mean your existing customers know what to expect. 

Strong branding helps generate new customers through word of mouth, and it improves staff pride and satisfaction which in turns leads into higher staff retention. It helps you connect with your audience, build trust, turns patrons into loyal or repeat customers, generate new customers and is key in standing out from your competition.

Branding trends such as colours, typefaces and logos will continue to come and go. Trends don’t happen in isolation and will continue to evolve, and sometimes stay around for good. Brands that have strong core values, show their imperfections and are honest and transparent along the way are going to continue to resonate with patrons and I believe it is those venues which are going to be rewarded in terms of customer loyalty in the long run.