An international design perspective that has really made a difference for hospitality companies.

We’re incredibly proud to share with you a recent interview with Keith Anderson, COO of our US business in the Dallas Business Journal. (click on this link for the article).

 Back in 2013 Harrison moved across the pond to set-up our US office in Dallas. Over the past 8 years, Keith and his talented team have built a thriving architecture and design business which has delivered a real difference to many US hospitality clients through an international design perspective that creates differentiation for brands locally.  

 Harrison have recently collaborated with @Front Burner Society to create the new concept @Son of Butcher, re-energised @Velvet Taco and created Sidecar Social, which is owned by Dallas restaurateur @Brent Tipps.

Storytelling in Restaurant Design is One Pillar of your brand’s success

Sarah Jenkinson, our Design Director at our Dallas office has recently shared her insights on creating compelling stories for hospitality brands in a US publication Restaurant News.

There 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.

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 colours and rich upholstery textures

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’ behaviours 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 flavour exploration. The unique brand has a fun sense of humour 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.

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 colours 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 touchpoint.

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.

Top tips for adapting to outside dining spaces

Creating an effective outdoor dining space.

It’s fair to say outside space has never been more important – both to businesses and to us as people.

For restaurants and pubs in particular, who are among those hit hardest by ongoing coronavirus restrictions, outdoor dining spaces have been thrown into the spotlight as a real ‘must have’ for any business in the hospitality sector going forward.

But when it comes to outdoor dining spaces, design, style, character and ‘feeling’ are also must-haves – certainly in the eyes of guests.

They have to ‘feel’ something when they take a seat in your outdoor dining area – and most importantly, they have to feel at home.

So, how do you develop those kinds of emotions in your guests when they’re outside rather than inside? Here are some great ideas to get you started…

 

Outdoor restaurant design our recommendations.

Interiors can provide a richness of décor, with comfortable, stylish seating and lighting to set the right mood for guests at the right time. Outside, of course, recreating that is tricky – even on a hot summer’s day or a balmy July evening when everything generally seems right with the world.

It’s possible, although success is always in the finer detail.

 

The right lighting

When day starts to become night, how you light your outdoor dining space is critical to the kind of atmosphere you want to create for your guests. String lights, tea lights and lanterns are all brilliant ways to light your outside dining area, as well as capture your guest’s attention.

 

Protection from the elements while retaining the style

You can’t always rely on the British summer, but it’s possible to protect your guests from the elements and retain a sense of style and ‘brand’ at the same time. Table or bench umbrellas obviously work well on sunny days and offer value for money. However, consider other creative solutions that reflect your brand’s tone of voice in providing respite from the sun.

A step further, you could consider a covered area that can be used all year round, or a pitched canopy – the sound of a summer rain beating down on material can provide an atmosphere in its own right and can be rather soothing!

Making your outdoor dining area an ‘experience’

Capturing guest attention and providing a theatrical experience when they first enter your outdoor dining area can make your venue memorable. Think about placing fire pits around your outside dining space to create a sense of drama or light up a large barbecue where customers can toast their own marshmallows or choose freshly cooked meats.

An open outdoor kitchen is also a great way to entertain guests dining al-fresco.

 

Outdoor restaurant seating ideas

One of the biggest challenges facing hospitality in the era of Covid-19 is seating. With social distancing restrictions being relaxed completely, we hope, in the not-too-distant future, brands can once again start to think about how they lay out their outdoor dining area and the type of seating they use.

Bringing people together, after so long apart, will be key in the early days post-coronavirus – so think about using bench seating, with long tables where diners can share space, food, drink and laughs.

The Stable, a national brand of pizza and cider restaurants, do this really well.

Your outdoor space, of course, should reflect your brand as much as your inside space – your customers should feel like they’re eating and drinking with you, despite dining al-fresco. So, use the materials that reflect your brand – whether that’s sleek metals or warm wood tones.

Remember though: this is the UK, so your seating will need to be durable and resistant to the glorious British weather as well as remaining stylish and on-brand.

 

How Harrison can help create an outdoor dining experience for your brand

Creating a usable outdoor dining space isn’t necessarily the hard part for you as a brand – it’s making that space feel like ‘you’ that’s much, much harder.

The outdoors will never be indoors, but that doesn’t mean it has to feel ‘different’.

Just take a look at this rooftop hotel concept we developed for a hotel chain in Dubai – competition doesn’t come bigger than the Dubai skyline, so creating drama and theatre was a key part of this particular project.

The stories we create are told through design. That’s what we’re all about.

Get in touch to find out more.

The Future is Now for New Restaurant Design

At Harrison, we are fortunate enough to work with restaurant concepts that are taking this leap in to the future and creating engaging experiences through their restaurant designs. Many have used this time to redefine their brand stories and maximize areas of opportunity. These shifts are revolutionizing the industry and defining the restaurant of the future.

Keith Anderson, CEO of our US Design Studio has recently been interviewed by QSR magazine and outlined his thoughts and ideas on next level interior design.

“We should focus in on responding to the need states of the guest through increased flexibility, experience, customization, personalization, convenience and safety measures.

As we move into this new phase, there are three areas of focus for next-level design:

 

Fully Customizable Spaces

During the height of the pandemic, restaurants realized that versatile design played an integral role in profitability and this lesson will become part of the new landscape. We predict a shift towards adaptable designs that offer the flexibility to create multiple lay-out options that can flex to heightened restrictions but without creating cavernous space. New prototypes will be designed for multi-functionality with screens to divide high-traffic areas, moveable tables and chairs instead of fixed booths, and flexibility to create socially distanced layouts. Creating personalized and multi-purpose design is no longer an option, it has become an essential part of all future design.

 

Hygiene and Sanitation Built-in to the Design

The big winner of the last year is hygiene. We will never again take our health and safety for granted, even at our favorite restaurants. This new must-have design element will be reflected in future restaurant prototypes and will include more than just hand washing stations. Anti-microbial finishes should be considered for guest touch points. All handles and high-touch surfaces will be made with self-cleaning materials which can prevent the spread of germs and seating will convert from fabric to hard surfaces for ease of sanitation. Brands must continue embrace technology that enables convenience, enhances safety by allowing contactless ordering and transactions.

 

Maximizing Opportunities for Off-Premises Dining

During days of lock-down when many of us were missing our favorite restaurants, it was a treat to have the option to grab carry-out from our favorite spots. We learned, although eating our favorite menu items at home is a different experience, it’s not all bad and we might want to keep doing it when all restrictions are lifted.  In addition, many restaurants realized they had been leaving money on the table by not offering this option and are ready to make off-premise options a permanent part of the equation. According to data, 66 percent of consumers anticipate continuing to use curbside pickup after dine-in services resume. We must continue to innovate and look for ways to enhance the off-premise brand experience through digital, technology and packaging.

Off-premises dining is here to stay and restaurants are building it in to their model moving forward. They are adding grab and go areas to maximize take-out and dedicated access for third party delivery drivers. Additional options include dedicated space for take-out orders with items stored in lit or temperature-controlled locker-like boxes with designated numbers to ensure that orders are secure and only picked up by the correct customer.

We must continue to think outside the box and return our focus to the need states of the guest. True innovation in drive-through should be explored by focusing in on personalizing the customer experience through data and understanding. Technology such as number plate recognition can help brands recognize returning guests so they can personalize communication, gifting and experiences. Imagine the possibilities of a drive through experience that triggers a music playlist, plays a favorite Netflix movie or provides a special birthday greeting. If it sounds futuristic, it is. But, the future is now.

Things are always changing and that’s not always a bad thing. In these extraordinary times, brands can reimagine their stories and ways to connect with their guest.

 

 

The “new normal” that everyone is talking about is actually an exciting evolution for an industry ready to come back better than ever”.

 

What is Brand Storytelling and and why should you be sitting up and taking notice?

What is brand storytelling?

In a world full to the brim with competition and even copycats, the old adage ‘survival of the fittest’ has never carried more weight for today’s brands. And with brands battling for every nano-second of consumer attention, your chances of survival can be hugely boosted through brand storytelling.

 

But what is brand storytelling and why should you be sitting up and taking notice?

Brand storytelling is the narrative that links you with your customers on a far deeper level than your product or service alone can manage.

It’s why you exist.

It’s why you matter.

It’s what makes your customers feel something.

That emotional connection, which encompasses the values you share with your customers, is a powerful thing and it’s what can help you stand out from the copycats and competition we alluded to right at the top of this piece.

It’s what makes your brand unique – because they can copy what you do, but they can’t copy your story.

That’s the power of brand storytelling…

 

Why is brand storytelling important?

The relationship between a brand and its customers had always been traditionally seen as something of a one-way street. You know how it used to go…

1. Customer makes enquiry, sharing lots of information about themselves.

2. Brand embarks on a hard sell to customer without giving them anything meaningful in return.

Of course, this was accepted many moons ago when companies had no real way of communicating effectively with their customers. But now, with more than 91% of businesses using content marketing strategies, the noise you’re battling with to capture your customers’ attention has never been louder. And even more importantly than that – customer demand for meaningful stories has never been higher.

As recently as 2015, research from The Brand Storytelling Report revealed how 80% of UK adults wanted brands to tell meaningful stories as part of their marketing output.

Yet 85% couldn’t recall a single memorable story told by a brand.

All of which tells us that while many brands are attempting to jump on board the brand storytelling train, many are derailing themselves right away through the actual content they’re creating.

 

How do brands use storytelling?

Think of some of the great books that have sold millions of copies all across the globe. How about:

• Harry Potter?
• Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?
• The Lord of the Rings?

Those examples have all been made into films, too, and here’s what they all have in common:

• A hero with a goal or mission
• Something that our hero has to battle against in order to succeed
• A positive emotional development in our hero

As humans, we’re all wired to emotionally connect and react to stories – after all, we’re taught them from the moment we emerge into the world, from bedtime tales to picking apart Jane Eyre in GCSE English.

Brand storytelling example: Airbnb

Airbnb is some way from Jane Eyre and Charlotte Bronte, but as a brand, it’s one that places connective storytelling at the very heart of everything it does.

By providing a picture of an Airbnb host’s life, as the brand has done with Jonathan’s story, Airbnb is able to tell a ‘hero’s tale’ of a single dad of three, who was working 60-80-hour weeks as well as looking after his kids – before he started generating an income from letting his spare rooms to Airbnb guests and changed his life. The hosts, essentially, are Airbnb so rather than focusing their content marketing efforts on telling the story of the business, the brand’s approach focuses on their customer’s own stories and experiences.

What better way to resonate with their customers, than through people who are essentially just like them?

 

How to tell the story of your brand

The story of your brand, your values and what you stand for already exist – it’s how you project them into the emotional make-up of your customers that’s key. It’s also important to remember that your brand story is an ongoing evolutionary process, with plenty of sequels to come.

Your brand storytelling strategy should be driven by people and personalities – just like a good book.

Think about:

• Who you are – how did your brand come to be and what is your vision, mission and values? What did you go through to get to where you are?
• What you do – but not only that, consider how what you do improves the lives of your customers and why you do what you do
• Who your customers are – your customers have stories to tell which stem directly from their experience with your brand. Make use of those authentic, honest stories
• What’s next – how will your brand evolve and how will you take your customers on that journey with you?

You should also:

• Focus on the problems your customers have and how what you do solves those problems – that’s the way to craft your hero and the story of how they overcame the odds with your help
• Make sure your story is educational, entertaining and inspirational – but most of all: make sure it’s believable
• Concentrate on the emotional touchpoint with your audience – how did what you do help someone and what were they struggling with before you stepped in?
• Let your personality shine through in your stories – it’s what sets you apart from the competition and your customers should know something is ‘you’ simply from reading the first line of your content

 

The Harrison approach to brand storytelling

We love telling the stories of the brands we work with. They’re intriguing, aspirational and encourage discovery from your customers.

Here are just a handful of the great brand story projects we’ve worked on:

The Angel Hotel

Intrigue formed the basis of our work with The Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds, an imposing 12th century Georgian coaching house full of history and mystique.
Author Charlies Dickens stayed at the venue and referenced it in his acclaimed novel The Pickwick Papers. We created a concept of ‘fables and tales’ to inject a feeling of ESCAPISM and ADVENTURE in every corner of the venue’s historic footprint.

Giraffe Restaurants

We built Giraffe World Kitchen’s brand story around the characteristics of the animal itself. Customers would ask why is this restaurant called Giraffe?Those characteristics align with the brand’s own values and beliefs:

• Giraffes have the biggest hearts of all land animals – OUR BRAND IS FRIENDLY AND WELCOMING
• They’re explorers, roaming the plains of Africa – OUR BRAND IS EXCITING AND ADVENTUROUS
• They have different view of the world, due to their height – OUR BRAND IS FUN AND LOOKS AT THINGS DIFFERENTLY

Gallio Pizza

The brand challenge for this Mediterranean pizza concept was to find a narrative arc that would forge a connection between the many varied cultures around the region, and connect with the brand with the wholesome and healthier way of life that the Mediterranean is synonymous with.

Our solution was to ensure Gallio Pizza became a true EXPLORER brand telling the story of a food odyssey that followed in the wake of the ‘Galley’ ships of the early Mediterranean trade routes. It is a brand which collects stories and recipes from chefs, staff and customers – recommending places to find incredible food and telling stories of ingredient provenance – quite literally taking customers on a journey. This story gives the brand licence to combine ingredients and influences creating an inspiring new and innovative menu.

Find out more

We’re brand storytelling consultants – but so much more than that, too.

Get in touch to find out more.

Naming a business: How to choose a brand name and stand out to your customers

What’s in a name?  Well, quite a lot actually – especially if you’re attempting to come up with a name for your new business.

But coming up with potential brand names that are both memorable but also tell people what it is you actually do can be mind-achingly frustrating – even for the creatives among you.

 

 

How to Choose a Brand Name

So, where do you start?

Firstly.

You have to understand what you do and who you are

This sounds obvious, of course.

Yet so many new businesses find themselves changing tack early on, perhaps because their product or service isn’t as successful as they’d first hoped, or because they revise the target audience they’re marketing to.

Either way, a major change in your product, service offering, or target audience can sometimes render your brand name meaningless.

So, when thinking of potential brand names, you need to consider:

• What your product or service proposition will be
• Your target audience and their personas.
• What your business really stands for and your back story, where have you come from?

 

Your brand identity

Your company name is important, but it only forms a portion of your overall brand identity.

A brand identity might sound a little pointless for a local carpentry firm, and more important for an international design agency like Harrison.

But what you stand for and your values as a business count for more now than they ever have before – regardless of size, location, product or service.

 

 

The Importance of Branding

Your brand identity is your personality. It’s your public-facing persona.

And it encompasses everything from what you say and how you say, to the promises you make to your customers.

But it starts with your brand name, so think about how you want to be seen and heard before you start brainstorming.

 

 

How we do it – The Harrison Naming Facets Model

We work to a list if eight ‘naming facets’ when working with clients to create new brand names:

• Brand fit
• Character
• Accessibility
• Scalability
• Suitability
• Be Unique
• Euphony
• The Right Fit

We then use those facets to ‘score’ the brand names that we shortlist.

 

Time for that brainstorm

The best way to even start to come up with a great name for your business is to brainstorm a list of words that are both associated with what you do and who you are, but also resonate with your potential customers.

Jotting down as many words as you can think of is a great starting point when naming a business or brand.

Remember: Google is your friend here, so if you’re struggling to come up a list of keywords, try a google search for ‘terminology’ or ‘glossary’ of your chosen product or expertise.

 

How we do it

We took that brainstorming process to the next level when tasked by Greene King to help them come up with a name and brand identity for a new craft ale.

In a busy marketplace like craft ales, it was important for Greene King that their new product had a brand name that:

• Was distinctive and memorable
• Set them apart from their competitors
• Evoked positive associations that resonated with their customers
• Created a strong personality that sparked curiosity
• Inspired and motivated their employees

We created ‘Lucky Luke’, the new craft ale’s ideal customer and devised a long list of words associated with Luke’s perception of himself, including:

• Intrepid
• Maverick
• Fearless
• Confident
• Grafter
• Wanderer

We then drew up a long list of words Luke uses in his vocabulary, which included:

• Railroad
• Grizzly
• Ablaze
• Stampede
• Hachette
• Bareboot

Following that, our team created a long list of locations Luke has a connection with, including:

• Devil’s Thumb
• Wilderness
• Moose
• Altitude
• Bearclaw
• Mountain

Words associated with Luke’s humour and character, meanwhile, included:

• Badger
• Boar
• Chinook
• Wolf
• Grizzly
• Spear

And thinking about his attitude sparked words like:

• Radical
• Curious
• Challenger
• Unshackled
• Spontaneous

Using our eight naming facets, we then came up with this ranked shortlist of six possible names for Greene King’s new ale, scoring them on each facet: Mighty Moose was chosen.

1. Mighty Moose IPA
2. Stampede IPA
3. Curious 8 IPA
4. Dashfire IPA
5. Bareboot IPA
6. Spotter IPA

 

Your ‘name’ as a business name

Where do you think the name Harrison comes from?

That’s right – from our founder, Philip Harrison.

Often brand names which are short, sweet, to the point and, dare we say it, obvious – stare you in the face for hours, days or even weeks or months, before the lightbulb illuminates. However, in our case, a name still communicates something and the name works because of Philip’s reputation, passion and how he has shaped our values including; personal/friendly service – so even a name like this needs to be assessed to check it resonates/communicates.

 

How to Check a Company Name

So, you’ve got a list of some amazing potential names for your new business.

Now you need to see if any of them have been taken by some other clever so and so.

 

Do a Google search

Jump on Google and start searching up your potential business names, crossing out any that exist already in the UK.

Remember: Even if your business name is taken by a company from overseas, that could impact on your ability to be found in search results.

 

Do a Companies House check

If you’re planning to incorporate your business as a limited company, log on to Companies House and make sure a business of the same name hasn’t already been registered.

 

Get feedback from people you trust

As much as you are really feeling your proposed new brand name, getting feedback from people you trust and respect can sometimes throw in a few curveballs – which can be both good and bad.

A fresh pair of eyes on your business name can sometimes throw up negative connotations you may not have considered, or it can be positive confirmation that you’re very much on the right lines.

 

Find a domain name

All new businesses need a website, so hop on to a domain name provider like Go Daddy or 123Reg and search up options for a domain name that includes the name of your business.

 

Start planning your brand strategy

As we said earlier, the name of your business is only a small part of your brand.

To really get your business moving and into the eyes and ears of your customers, you need to have a solid brand strategy.

This strategy clearly defines who and what you are, what your business stands for and your values.

A brilliant brand strategy and clear values, as well as an amazing product and / or superb customer service, will help you build loyalty and trust with the people who buy from you – meaning they come back time and time again.

 

Now it’s time for growth…

At Harrison, we’re experts on building and showcasing brands through identity, strategy and storytelling.

Check out some of the projects we’ve worked on and get in touch to find out more.