Looking for top-notch menu design ideas? A menu is so much more than just a list of restaurant dishes, it is one of a restaurant’s most important marketing devices. As the saying goes, the first impression lasts the longest. Therefore, the design of your menu needs to reflect all the style, expertise, and capability your restaurant has to offer. Before your customers even see the physical dishes, they’re exposed to your menu. This is why it is worth the effort to create the best possible menu for your restaurant. Your menu will represent and identify your brand. A great menu idea tends to involve a blend of print finishes and material, typography, photography and iconography; it’s not just a simple list.
If done right, everything should come together to communicate your brand to your customers. So here are our 7 top tips to keep in mind when designing your menu!
Pick a Theme for your Menu
Your theme will represent your brand. Knowing who your target is and finding a design that fits in properly with your interior design and overall theme of your restaurant is the first step to creating the perfect menu. So figure out who your customers are and select the appropriate theme. For instance, customers of a coffee-shop are going to find it strange for a vintage, old-fashioned barista-style shop to have a menu better fitting a formal, expensive restaurant that features five-course degustations.
A theme should incorporate designated colours, a label or icon and your preferred tone aimed at your customers (eg: formal, casual, extravagant, simple). Remember the menu is the first thing your customer touches the moment you get them seated.
Your Logo is Key
Your logo will represent you. You as a business, you as an owner, you as employees. Think about the logos that don’t even need words to tell people what their business is; golden arches for McDonalds, a black stallion for Ferrari. Simple but effective as ever. Your menu needs to flaunt your logo; perhaps one big one on the front, with subtle repetitions throughout. The more people see it, the more people will remember it! Don’t forget to match the imagery, colours and font.
Numbers Matter but Dollar Signs Don’t
Research from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration shows that a menu that did not have dollar signs garnered more orders than those that did. Also, content needs to be just balanced enough for the average restaurant-goer. Too much or too little content will mean an overwhelmed or a bored customer, respectively. If you fail to include important information such as your website, phone number or social media profile, you will fail to maximize your menu as a marketing tool. So ditch the dollar signs, as well as the decimals. But not your contact information!
It’s no wonder that black and white will never go out of fashion, as high contrasted colours remain one of the most attention-grabbing aspects of visuals. The colour scheme of your menu should match the overall colour of your business; is it warm, is it cold? Is it professional or casual? Dim or bright? Your menu should be legible not matter where your customer is reading it.
Promote and solidify your brand by coordinating the color-scheme of your menu with the rest of your restaurant’s interior design.
Research from Cornell University reveals that beautifully-described items are more appealing to customers. But in saying that, it’s important to engage every guest with straightforward, clear descriptions of your dishes. Remember that a menu is more than just an ingredient list. This helps each guest get a picture of what you have to offer. Excite your guest’s appetites and appeal to their senses. Paint the picture with your words, and then present the picture to your customer with your dish.
Be Careful With the Photos!
High-resolution, confusing photos on your menu could distract your customers. As previously mentioned, sometimes it’s best to let your words paint the picture for you (and that’s why your descriptions are so important!) In the case of international cuisine with menus that are in another language, it might be advantageous to include photos in order for your customers to know what the dish look like, and what it includes. Make sure every photo you include in your menu is of the highest quality with no grainy shots. Remember that customers often favour colour as it allows for a true representation of your product.
Put Your Specials in the Spotlight
Restaurant goers tend to gaze at menus for less than two minutes. In order to draw their attention to your specials, it’s best to have the specials visible on first impact. For example, having a separate part of the menu with the specials on view, perhaps even on top of the normal menu. Simple means of finding the specials also lessens reader fatigue (yep, it’s a thing!)
Another reason to put your highly-priced specials under the spotlight is that it makes less-expensive items on your menu much more sell-able. In fact, Rapp Magazine claims that many restaurants use high-priced food items as a decoy to direct customers to their normal menus.
Remember, a good menu idea is worth the effort as it brings in your customers. It is the first thing customers see and creates a lasting impression, creating your brand and leading to repeat business.