Storytelling in Restaurant Design is One Pillar Of Brand’s Success

Storytelling in Restaurant Design is One Pillar Of Brand's Success

by Sarah Jenkinson, Director of Design at HARRISON

Storytelling in Restaurant Design is One Pillar Of Brand's SuccessThere is nothing like a great experience. Our lives are built around them, and the better the story, the more involved people become. Restaurant brands have the same objective because their success is all about the customer journey narrative. There are a multitude of factors and influences, whether it is the history, food fusion or cultural significance, that play into a restaurant brand’s story.

When a brand engages its guests, it helps guests start to fall in love with everything the restaurant brand does. Designing one-off restaurants or multi-chain brands to make them part of the fabric of peoples’ lives is no easy task. What makes a restaurant unique, what gives it a competitive edge and how the brand wants to grow are all part of how we identify the solution. We need all of those subliminal qualities to be make sure our design is just right.

Fundamentally, the food has to go above and beyond tasty. Then, we come in to help maximize the guest journey, which starts not just at the door. The customer journey is what everyone sees and touches to create a sense of place. Whether the details are big or small, we convey a narrative in everything the guest experiences, from moments like walking to your table and seeing the seats you sit on, smelling the aroma of the brand’s food and drink, hearing music being played and people talking to noticing how the napkins are folded on the table, the weight of the cutlery and how the food is served, everything matters.

Ethics and brands’ behaviors are now even more of a priority on the consumer’s mind. We have to reflect the brand accurately to create the perfect narrative that resonates with who the brand is and what it offers. This is part of what makes any brand stand out from the rest and brings people back for more.

We must understand the finer points that give the discovery and strategy phase of the brand depth. While it may seem obvious, many new startups, incubator brands and even long-established brands omit this stage as they get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae of operating their business.

For example, we have recently been working with FB Society on Buttercup Love Me Tenders, a quirky brand that serves chicken tenders in cones. The concept takes an unconventional approach to classic comfort food that embraces global influences and encourages flavor exploration. The unique brand has a fun sense of humor and needed to be envisaged correctly to be successful. As we crafted the Buttercup concept from the ground up, we had to analyze how the brand experience would be for its guests to appropriately bring it to life. Playing with food is encouraged, so our design had to be equally as fun and playful. The restaurant stall was designed to resemble a traditional shed and chicken coop and even the logo and font choices reflect that lively energy.

Storytelling in Restaurant Design is One Pillar Of Brand's Success

In addition, Fogo de Chão is known for its Brazilian heritage and warm hospitality. We were determined to help this brand show its Southern Brazilian roots in every step of the guest’s journey with new design elements. We started by creating a timeless, sophisticated and welcoming environment within the restaurant using deep accent colors and rich upholstery textures. From the moment guests arrive, they will enjoy an experience that allows them to discover something new with every bite. Founded in Southern Brazil in 1979, Fogo elevates the centuries-old cooking technique of churrasco – the art of roasting high-quality cuts of meat over an open flame – into a cultural dining experience of discovery. Whether guests are celebrating an occasion with family or enjoying a date night in the Next Level Lounge, the restaurant’s design aesthetic tells the Fogo story through every touch point.

Guests want a brand with a story to tell. Told often through many unseen details, key features are planned out and unite to create the right experience. As designers, we rely on the brand to help us translate its DNA into special features, or magical moments and feelings that ensure the brand’s story is being told. Ultimately, we’re in charge of putting the guest at the heart of the experience, and we’ll do everything in our power to make sure they fall with the brand and stay in love. Because, we all love a happy ending.

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Sarah Jenkinson is the Director of Design and leads the global design team at Harrison. Jenkinson has over 21 years’ experience in the global design practice throughout the world, designing spaces in retail, stadia, food & beverage, leisure, and workplace. In addition to her work on Buttercup and Fogo de Chao, she has designed some iconic branded experiences for LEGO brand store and downtown Orlando, ODEON Leicester Square, Aquascutum Regent Street London, Arsenal FC, Ascot Race Course ‘On 5′ restaurant and the Regeneration of the London Olympic Stadium.