Build Your Restaurant’s Brand with Music

Canada’s restaurant industry generates $80 billion in annual sales, which means there are many restaurants competing for customers’ attention. In a crowded market of trendy menus and eye-pleasing decors, foodservice brands are looking to distinguish themselves and create a sense of place that goes beyond catchy slogans and a memorable name.

Restaurants and bars that incorporate music can distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack and make their business sing. Music is an emotionally resonant element; it creates memories and impacts how people feel and should, therefore, be a key part of your restaurant’s brand identity.

“Every customer experience has the potential to be a lifetime moment, and music can heighten these chances,” says Andrew Berthoff, chief communications and marketing officer at The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN). “An establishment needs to know its customers so it can carefully select music playlists that cater to existing regulars and attract new customers.”

Here are five items to consider when building your brand through music:

Your Target Audience

While the style and price of cuisine will draw a specific target audience, the music you play should complement this experience and serve the demographic your restaurant attracts.

“As a restaurant owner, you might not be personally in-tune with your customers’ music preferences, but it’s integral to understand them,” adds Berthoff. “Researching trends in music, and even working with experts in the area, will allow you to create the right playlists to make your customers’ experience – and thus your business – better.”

Also, understand your neighbourhood. Is it more urban professional or family-friendly? Cater your music to the culture of the local crowd and get to know them.


Consistency, Consistency, Consistency

At the root of customer experience is consistency. Customers expect consistency with the service, prices, food, atmosphere and even the music that restaurants choose. First, understand your customers’ preferences in music. Musical ambiance should be an element that keeps tables turning, not one that rattles people out the door. If a regular after-work crowd isn’t used to hearing soft rock ballads during their Thursday night happy hour, it may put a damper on their expectations. For restaurant chains, consistent music is also important. Customers don’t just want to see that logo; they want everything else to be the same as in any other location.

Social Media

Social media is a great tool for sharing your brand and telling its story. Whether you’re posting a blog about a past event on your website, teaching customers how to mix the season’s new martinis in a You Tube video series, or posting the night’s bar scene on Instagram, each platform can incorporate music to build your brand recognition.

“Social media engagement is critical for most restaurants today, and there’s no easier and inexpensive way to raise awareness of your perfect music than through your social properties,” says Berthoff.

Brag about your favourite artists. If you’re using live music, make sure you work with musicians to get permission to use video clips over the internet. While you can’t provide tastes from your menu online, you can offer a preview sample of the music you play to make your business more attractive. The shift to social media comes at a time when more people are ordering online. If you don’t offer this feature, lure customers back in with unique musical experiences that are Instagram-worthy, like an 80s karaoke night if this fits your brand.

Live Music

To add extra cachet to your restaurant, consider adding live music events.

“If live performance makes sense for your establishment, you might be surprised at how affordable and beneficial it can be,” noted Berthoff. “With live music, a restaurant can become the coolest place in the neighbourhood overnight.”

Live music is also a great way to become deeply embedded in the community. Hire local talent to help boost a restaurant’s reputation and improve business. Making sure that musicians are fairly compensated through the right licenses and remuneration will also build a positive brand image.

live music

Acting Responsibly

Restaurants are more than a bricks-and-mortar experience; they’re an extension of the community. Some successful establishments give back to its neighbours, which also differentiates them from the crowd. From feeding local shelters, to hosting a charity event, to approaching music in an ethical way, these restaurants want to be perceived as acting morally and legally.

According to a SOCAN study, 74 per cent of people think music is important to the customer experience and 70 per cent agree that it is fair to compensate those who created the music. While these stats reflect all demographics, owners should pay attention to Generation Z, the population of youth born after the advent of the internet who will eventually make up a higher proportion of consumers.

If your restaurant caters to a younger crowd, it’s important to consider their generational values, such as transparency and social good, which will influence where they chose to eat. Keeping up-to-date with your music license and proudly displaying it for all to see is one way to build an honest brand.

Becoming Licensed To Play by SOCAN will help ensure you build customer trust and loyalty, which are at the core of all successful brands.

For more information, please visit SOCAN’s website.