What makes one restaurant thrive while another flounders in the same neighborhood?
This very question is what makes the three-person team of Le Billyclub of Montreal get up every day and get to work. Their task is to help restauranteurs in Quebec differentiate their eateries in a sea of robust culinary activity.
Le Billyclub is a branding and marketing firm whose mission is to launch a restaurant’s name and brand into and above a vibrant scene, “finding ways to bring people to their doors.”
In this week’s Q&A with Recipe for Success @ Boxerbrand, Veronique Lafortune owner of Le Billyclub in Montreal discusses the importance of going beyond the menu to gather patrons.
Q: Attracting customers is key for restaurants. How do you help them do that?
Before launching Billyclub, I started working freelance in Montreal doing mostly logo work. But as I continued, I started working one on one with individual restaurant owners and chefs. I realized that pushing the name of a restaurant out there involves much more than logo design, and is much more about branding. Restaurants need to think about what feeling they want to incorporate and what their message is: this involves their offer, their service, and the mood. Once a restaurant establishes the number one thing, which is the quality of their food, after that they have to differentiate themselves from all the other restaurants and explain why their offer is better than their competitors.
Q: How do you help restaurants set themselves apart from the others?
I start by getting to know the owners, the chef, and the key people at the restaurant. And I also study the neighborhood they’re in, and try to understand who lives around them. Understanding the neighborhood is important because it helps a restaurant figure out its niche, and to step up and provide something that’s missing in their area.
Q: The look and feel of a restaurant is an important part of what you help achieve.
There’s a “code” in Montreal restaurants that demands good graphic design. People in general are branding more and more. In the past, branding would extend to a logo. Now people want to branch out and extend their brand to the interior design. A good example of that is a restaurant I recently worked with called Bar Renard. I worked very closely with the owners on the interior design of the bars, sharing ideas and brainstorming about every detail.
During the process, they discover their own restaurant identity and developed a space that lived well in its space and with their customers.
Q: What was the mood you helped Bar Renard create?
Renard is a charming neighborhood bar. Marc-Antoine Colombe, co-owner of the place, has another bar with a similar ambience in another neighborhood.
Marc-Antoine lives in the neighborhood and he wanted to bring something new and refreshing to an area he knew was filled with young professionals just waiting for new spots. He wanted to make sure the place was conducive to having a good time.
Q: How does working with a graphic design firm help a restaurant’s overall chances of success?
Restaurants are difficult to keep going because there is a lot of things to consider in the equation. There’s the competition, the service, the offer, the quality and the vibe of the place.
From the logo to the plate, consistency is the key. Customers come to expect a certain experience from a place they learn to love. And, it takes communication between the owner, chef and designers to pull it all together to create a restaurant that reflects their passion. — Le Billyclub uses Boxerbrand menu covers in many of their restaurant designs.