Howard Saunders   May 15, 2015   Blog, Brand, image, Retail   2 Comments

1. Get a Brand

Pick a punchy name that sounds like it’s set for success. Something easy and familiar that rolls off the tongue works best. Choose a name that you can imagine being franchised from Totnes to Timbuktu. Hey, Timbuktu, there’s a name! (That one’s for free)

2. Get noticed

Make sure your sign is visible, and by visible I mean big. As big as the local authorities will allow. Bigger if you can get away with it. You need to stand out from the crowd and a fascia-filling, mother of a neon sign gets you on the radar. If they won’t allow that, go for back illuminated plastic. Getting noticed is half the battle.

3. Tell us what you do

Don’t be shy, explain yourself, get a strap-line, think positive. ‘The best & baddest burger in town’ or ‘Pizza-licious!’ Be proud of who you are and what you do…and then shout about it!

4. Design

Designing a restaurant isn’t easy, so make sure you get plenty of input. Start by asking the chef how much space he needs, then halve it. Everyone knows somebody who’s good at design. For instance, my niece is pretty artistic and can draw virtually any Disney character you care to throw at her. Ask someone like that to come up with a few ideas on decor before you get quotes, but keep it colourful. Remember, this isn’t your front room: we’re looking for the wow factor here. Sometimes a theme helps and it doesn’t matter what it is. For example, a ‘jungle’ theme opens up all sorts of exciting design opportunities. Compare that to, say, a ‘moon-landing’ theme. The rule is to let your imagination run riot. And on the subject of shit restaurants, there’s a ‘toilet’ themed restaurant in LA called the Magic Restroom. Apparently the food is very good.

5. Big Menu

Make sure you cover all angles. What if a young couple comes in and he wants a burger whilst she prefers pizza? Is one of them going to have to go next door? No. Have a full range of options to keep everybody happy from OAPs down to the kiddies. (Actually the pizza and burger combo pretty much covers that) And you’ll be amazed at the number of meal permutations you can create with just a few sauces and couple of side dishes.

6. Big Menu

It always looks impressive to have a big menu, in size I mean. We’re talking broadsheet (bed-sheet if possible) so that they’re anti-nickable, and laminated so you can wipe off all the grease. Make sure it looks bright and jolly with plenty of cheeky comments wherever possible. People love puns on food, like ‘Don’t go bacon my heart’ or ‘Penne for your thoughts’ etc. (You can use those)

7. Staff

Staff are critical to your success. After all, who else is going to bring the food to the table? If you have lots of keen, young family members that will work for a free meal then you’re off to a great start. Remember that every dollar you pay your staff, is a dollar straight off the bottom line, so keep it tight. Immigrants are excellent candidates. They’ll work for next to nothing and because they can’t speak the language they won’t argue with the customers. It’s a win, win!

About Howard Saunders

Howard has worked in retail design for over twenty five years. As a former Creative Director of Fitch, based in London, he was responsible for retail design and branding and for creating multi-disciplinary teams of architects, graphic designers, product designers and copywriters and making them work together! As an independent consultant Howard has worked closely with Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Westfield, for over a decade, helping them develop new store designs and keeping them informed of the latest retail innovations and shifts in customer expectations. His work with Westfield, for example, culminated in the creation of the artisan Great Eastern Market at Westfield Stratford, Europe’s largest shopping centre, which opened in 2011 on London’s Olympic Park. Now based in New York, Howard’s current clients include CBRE, Claire’s Accessories, Consumer Goods Forum, Ebay, Johnson & Johnson, L’Occitane, Magento, Mothercare, Permira and Westfield World Trade Center. As an international speaker Howard’s talks are big, visual journeys across the world of retail. Provocative, challenging, brutally honest, evidence based and thoroughly entertaining.


  1. James Says: May 22, 2015 3:15 pm Reply

    Howard, what tipped you over the edge to write this….please divulge

    • Howard Saunders Says: May 28, 2015 12:37 pm Reply

      Life James. Life. I did a food trends talk in Germany a couple of weeks ago and the big issue of the day was the decline of the fast food brands and how they should react. I realised that they still don’t get it and only talk of more healthy options etc. This is my way of explaining how they’ve lost us.

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