We all get to that point where we just need a break from Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, our city -- we just need a break from the hustle and bustle of life. A few weeks ago I spent 5 amazing days in Miami, soaking up the sun and warmth that isn't all too common in cloudy, cold Chicago.

 

Vacations are meant to let you mind wander and sure enough I started pondering those "deep" questions that don't necessarily, on the surface, seem to jive with the idea of vacation: Who am I? What am I doing with my life? Where am I going? In some ways it would have been more entertaining to read Us Weekly while burying my feet in the sand. But how often do we take time out of our busy work and social schedules to examine who we are and where we are going? 

 

It's so necessary in our personal lives and for restaurants to think about those deep brand questions before launching social media efforts (or really before launching a restaurant at all).

  • Why do people visit your restaurant instead of the one down the street? 
  • What's characteristics build up to the atmosphere you provide? 
  • What's the story and history of where your concept came from? 
  • Who were/are the owners and what vision did they set from the start? 
  • If your restaurant were a person, what traits do you imagine it having?

These questions might sound a little cheesy to think about and even bordering on "over thinking", but they are really the foundation and guide for reaching out to customers. Regardless of whether you use social media for brand awareness or addressing customer concerns, every tweet, Facebook post, and interaction online and offline should come out of your brand's identity. 

 

We have all met those people or visited those restaurants that try to be all things to all people. It always provides for an odd, disconnected experience because you are never sure what you're going to get each time you visit. Whether your restaurant is engaged with social media or not, take time to know your own identity and make sure everyone -- from front of the house to back of the house -- knows that identity as well. As a customer, there are few things worse than a restaurant with an identity crisis. 

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Comment by Josh Hersh on April 25, 2011 at 6:36pm
Hey Samantha! Thanks for the kudos : ) I really like that idea of a restaurant going on a "soul-searching" trip before launching. Yeah I think we were totally in Miami at the same time haha...that was some gorgeous weather, especially coming from Chicago. I got a serious sunburn that I'm just now getting over. Thanks for the comment and have a good week!
Comment by Samantha Castro on April 25, 2011 at 2:37pm

Kudos for the well-written post. I was just reading a Cornell Hospitality report on building a compelling brand for travel destinations, and in a nutshell, they used the same questions you've posed in their development of a country's destination brand. Both restaurants and countries have to do a bit of soul-searching in order to create a respectable name for themselves.

 

In an unrelated note, I'm guessing you and I were in Miami at the same time--the last week of March? What an incredible time.


Non-Operator
Comment by Dorothy Frisch on April 15, 2011 at 8:01am
Very well said, Josh. I've been involved in exercises with diverse restaurant managers and given them the assignment to describe their restaurant in just two sentences to the person next to them. Most of them can't! And until they can articulate it, the FOH staff cannot embody it!

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