Don’t Miss Tips for Branding Your Restaurant’s Interior

If you came here looking for tips on restaurant interior design, we could very well just leave you with this one statement: 

Every teeny, tiny detail in a restaurant’s physical space has to be carefully crafted to influence the customer through a direct connection in the customer journey. 

We won’t leave you there though. In this article, we will break down how restaurants can utilize environmental design to connect with customers. 

restaurant branding agency

Why Restaurant Environmental Design?

restaurant interior design

The environmental design of the restaurant, when done correctly, can have a significant impact on creating a customer connection. When strategically designed and properly attuned to the overall brand direction, a restaurant’s environmental design will turn guests into instant brand ambassadors. 

In today’s ever-increasing visual society, a restaurateur can’t simply focus on the menu. Instead, a bold brand must be constructed, and that brand has to permeate the restaurant’s physical space.

Restaurant Environmental Design Starts With Foundational Branding

First things first. Before you start pulling out paint swatches or hiring an interior designer, you’ve got to have a foundation for your restaurant brand. At Nice Branding Agency, we’ve curated a branding package that equips restaurant owners with exactly what they need to start off on the right foot. 

Foundational Branding will provide you with your positioning statement and brand attributes. It will also arm you with a visual direction that will set the tone for the aesthetic of the entire brand. This, obviously, will translate directly to the design of your restaurant’s physical space. And having a physical space that is in direct alignment with your other brand elements and brand support creates an experience for customers that is entirely cohesive.

Starting on environmental design for a restaurant without having Foundational Branding in place is risky, as it leaves selections up to personal preference or interpretation as opposed to a purposeful approach.

Don’t Skimp on Logo Design

While your restaurant logo might seem to be something that’s entirely separate from environmental design, it’s actually a major player in your restaurant’s physical space.

In the environmental design for a restaurant, it’s likely that the logo will be displayed throughout the space. Large applications of the logo are impactful — and expensive — so, having a logo that’s not quite right is, well, not quite right.

environmental branding

When displayed over your doors, your logo has got to be graphically sound and meaningful enough to attract a second glance.

masala wok design

New restaurants absolutely must invest in a strong logo design from the start. And existing restaurants who are designing a new space need to audit their logo design to ensure it’s worthy before bringing it into the new restaurant space.

We could go on and on here about the importance of a professional logo design, but just trust us on this one. Or check out our article here to learn why the power of a professional logo shouldn’t be overlooked.

restaurant logo nashville

Creating the Restaurant Environmental Design Plan

At Nice Branding Agency, when we have Foundational Branding and the restaurant logo design in place, we move directly into the creation of an Environmental Design Plan. This is where we create a design for the interior of your restaurant that aligns with your brand’s visual direction and connects customers to your message and menu.

During this phase, our branding team references your restaurant floor plan and seating layout. We pinpoint selections for every single element that a customer will come into contact with as they approach and move through your restaurant.

restaurant interior plan

Our Environmental Design Plan for your restaurant will include detailed selections (and placement direction) for flooring, lighting, seating, tables, wall colors and textures, bathroom fixtures, hardware, and all other fixtures and finishes. We’ll also note the placement of wayfinding signage and wall and floor art.

As restaurant branding experts, we are experienced in working side by side with your architect (or ours!) to create an interior branding plan that addresses all aspects of the customer journey, immersing people in your brand from the moment they open the door.

Specifically for fast-casual and quick-service restaurants, we actually create this customer journey. There’s nothing more off-putting for a customer than walking into a restaurant and stopping short, having no idea where to go or how to get to the food.

For our restaurant branding clients, we put the customer journey on par with brand development. Our team takes a customer-experience approach to environmental design. We prioritize the customer journey and ensure that it’s a seamless path from the entry to the order counter, and then on to the tables and out.

Once interior selections are made by our team and approved by our client, we then present the Environmental Design Plan to the restaurant architect. 

Note that at this point, we advise some of our clients to work with their architects to turn the design plan into a set of renderings. 3-D renderings allow us to get a more realistic view of the plan as it will appear within your walls. 

environmental graphic design agency
interior wall graphic

This isn’t completely necessary, but it is valuable for clients who are looking to roll the design out in a larger way across more stores. It allows us to identify any potential roadblocks or challenges that might be easier to address up front before construction than on the fly. 

No funds for renderings? No worries. We’ll stick with you through the build to answer any questions and consult on selections.

In Restaurant Interior Design, Good Graphic Design Matters

With the Environmental Design Plan in place and all selections finalized, we move into the creation of the graphic design elements that will essentially bring the brand and its message into the space.

Environmental graphic design implements storytelling, typography, color, imagery, and more to communicate a message visually. 

Consider all the space that is available to make an impact or a connection within a restaurant. The walls, the tables, the booths, the floor — and the list goes on. Get creative here, or better yet, hire a restaurant branding agency that is skilled in both graphic design and environmental design.

At Nice Branding Agency, we have found that our clients benefit from our team being able to create a vision and then bring it to life across all applications. Take our word for it when we say that keeping the restaurant branding project with one experienced firm will take you further. Your project will be much more successful this way than if you were to use one person or team for restaurant brand development, another for graphic design, and yet another for the design of your restaurant interior.

interior mural
interior branding
interior look and feel
nashville gallery wall

Environmental branding should also include the creative development of custom art to breathe the brand into the space, as well as wayfinding signage to direct customer flow. Custom mural designs for restaurants can be added to our packages to introduce an additional design element to the mix.

Don’t Overlook the Exterior

Remember that environmental branding isn’t limited to restaurant interior design.

We can all agree that the restaurant’s exterior is the first thing that people see. So, it’s actually a no-brainer to create a restaurant facade that turns a potential passerby into a customer who actually walks through your doors. 

restaurant design agency
graphic design agency nashville
bbq restaurant design
interior brand agency

We’ve been around the block enough to know that there are limitations to what a restaurant owner can do with the exterior of the building or storefront. Landlord restrictions and city regulations are such that it can be tricky to leverage your restaurant exterior in a manner that powerfully conveys your brand. 

But, alas, it’s necessary to do what you can to utilize this asset. 

Luckily, many of your close competitors may take a look at the restrictions and toss in the towel. However, it’s not terribly difficult to make your restaurant exterior more enticing than your neighbor’s. At Nice Branding Agency, we get creative in coming up with ways we can use a building’s exterior to send a message. 

Navigating the signage requirements and doing so in a manner that yields a result in your favor isn’t for the faint of heart. We review the signage requirements and then consult on the fabrication of a sign that meets those requirements. That doesn’t mean we don’t push the envelope for you. The creation of a bold brand always requires at least some light shoving!

restaurant branding design

Don’t stop at signage though. Consider your potential patio space, exterior wall color, plaza signs, storefront windows, and more. Every element that can be an extension of your brand is an element that works to create customers.

restaurant mural design

Restaurant Environmental Design Extras: Serviceware for Food Presentation + Staff Attire

Planning on purchasing some plates and leaving it at that? We’d advise against this plan. The manner in which you present your food is everything. 

Restaurant brands are probably among the most Instagrammed brands out there. People can’t resist snapping a pic of their food before digging in.

restaurant branding experts
restaurant food photographer
drink photography

Wondering now how you’re going to be able to create an Insta-worthy scene for your customers’ #foodporn? No worries; we’ve got you. And let us warn you that your food presentation can be even better than your wildest dreams.

Serving buns? Why not literally brand them? Sandwiches held together with a toothpick? Your icon better be flying high at the end of that pick! Tray liner paper? Endless options to connect. Cups? Take-out bags? Yes, here too. You get the idea.

food photography nashville

As you can see, you just have to think outside the box a little. And you’ve got to think about the box. Don’t forget the box. 

There are a number of different ways that your brand can pop into the customer’s head as they sink their teeth into whatever it is you are serving. The brands that figure out where to show up the best, and in the most unexpected manners, win the Internet.

And finally. Your staff. The people you have representing your brand by taking orders, filling those orders, running those orders, and wiping those tables are the true MVPs. They are (or should be) walking, talking extensions of your brand. Team training is key, and ensuring that your people know and are living out your brand attributes is an important part of making sure that each person on your team is making the right impact for your restaurant brand.

Your staff can communicate brand messages nonverbally as well. This is often done through attire. Staff attire sometimes comes as an afterthought, but it’s a super-powerful piece of environmental branding.

restaurant attire design
restaurant attire

Our team infuses restaurant staff attire with the brand’s messaging and aligns the selection and design of attire with the overall brand direction. We select shirts, aprons, hats, and more to align with the brand. And then we design them to be completely custom and ship them directly to our clients’ doors. 

Strong staff attire sometimes leads to restaurant merchandise. For some restaurants, this can become an extra source of revenue and another extension of the brand into the wild, beyond your restaurant’s walls.

Need to Work on Your Environmental Branding?

So, whether you’re a burger joint, a pizza place, a taco spot, a coffee shop, or something else entirely, you’ve got to harness the power of environmental design to create connections with your customers.

If you’re wondering where to start, it’s really super simple. Just pick up the phone and give our restaurant branding experts a call: 615-905-9936. Or shoot us an email: 

Our restaurant branding packages range in scope and cost, and may include foundational branding, restaurant logo design, menu design, menu board design, restaurant stationery design, restaurant environmental design, restaurant environmental graphic design, food presentation, food photography, lighting and furniture selection, fixture selection, restaurant website design and development, and more. 

We would love to walk you through our restaurant branding packages and help guide you into what works best for you. Working together, you can focus on the food, while we get people to notice what you’re serving up!

And, if you have an existing concept and you’re wanting to wade through some more knowledge while you wait, check out our blog on rebranding an existing restaurant environment and what you need to start thinking about!

ready to brand your restaurant?