By Nick Fosberg   |   June 7, 2017

Branding is a very important business strategy, not only in the bar and restaurant business, but EVERY business. Your brand is what people know you for and what you’re all about. Nick interviews branding and design expert Henry Komanski from Unique Designz about the best ways to brand your bar or restaurant business and what branding really means.

In This Episode You’ll Learn:

  • The 2 key things you MUST follow when creating any kind of print or social media ads – if you don’t follow this, you’ll confuse the hell out of your customers.
  • Video branding strategies to follow that grabs attention, builds relationship with customers, and super inexpensive to do.
  • What branding really means and why you SHOULD not follow the branding strategies that all the BIG chains follow – do this and you won’t be able to afford Christmas presents for your family!

Links Mentioned In This Podcast:

Unique Designz Website

Unique Designz Instagram

Get Nick’s #1 Selling Book For Free By Clicking Here.  Just cover shipping and handling.

Do you ever feel stuck or confused on how to either A: Attract more new paying customers or B: How to take 5-10 hours off your plate while making even more money? If so, here’s how to fix both.

Images Mentioned In Podcast Episode

Read the Transcription Here

Welcome everybody to a bar and restaurant breakthroughs podcast. Today we’re going to talk about branding secrets for bars and restaurants that make you stand out from the competition with Henry Kamanzki. Henry’s got a design company, design firm in the New York area.

Henry, we met probably what was it, a year and a half maybe two years ago in one of our marketing groups and Henry reached out and said, “Hey man I do branding, I do a lot of design work for bars and restaurants. I looked at some of that stuff and I was blown away, and actually hired him to do stuff for Casey’s and Rural On Tap. So Henry I know I gave you a quick little intro there but if you want to add anything else to your background.

HENRY: Sure. Well first and foremost thanks again buddy for having me on the podcast. You do amazing things with your brand and you are a tremendous inspiration. I remember that it’s been about two weeks, not two weeks, two years! About two and a half years at this point that we’ve known each other and I’ve just seen you grow exponentially over those years and want to give you a big shout out for that. Real quick, like you said I’ve been in the design branding business for 10 years now and worked with hundreds of restaurant owners along the way and really found out what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to the brand identity for your restaurant. And I worked with a lot of higher end (Businesses), I’ve worked with a lot of franchises and one of the biggest things that I see is a disconnect when restaurants go into the identity portion of their brand. It is the extreme inconsistency that they struggle with. And basically it boils down to one advertisement looks one way and then another week or two, they come out with another advertisement and it looks 100 percent (180) if that makes any sense. From the previous ad, where it almost looks like it’s two different restaurants.

NICK: Yeah. I agree with you. And I want to get into more detail on that. Before we go on, I guess why don’t we answer the big question of what is branding because I know others, especially with me too, I wasn’t really big into branding years ago. I didn’t really know what branding was when I heard what branding is. But what is it? What does branding mean if you want to brand your restaurant? What does it mean? What is it going to do for you what are the benefits of branding for your bar or your restaurant?

HENRY: Awesome question and I get it every time somebody gets on the phone with me. It’s a desired perception Nick. It’s how you want your audience to view you. And when I really break it down to a third grade level, we all want friends in life right?

NICK: Right.

HENRY: And basically what we want is how would that friend speak of you? How would you want that friend to speak of you if they were introducing you to another person? That’s what branding is all about.

NICK: Right. That’s great. And how exactly do you do that with a bar or restaurant? You look at McDonald’s and all these big companies. They’ve got millions and millions of dollars to go throw their logo all over the place and they can do that. I’m always about you know direct response marketing. I know you are too. When you spend money you want to be able to track and measure your results. McDonald’s, Burger King, Hooters, whatever…they go out they put out this commercial. They don’t know exactly how much came in from that unless it’s tied to an offer and you can’t really see that. But you could still do branding with direct response marketing but how do you do that within your marketing? With exactly of what you just talked about? Because for the small bar and restaurant owner we can’t afford to just go, “Here’s our logo, We’re branding ourselves!” We can’t afford that, we need results. We need to do it within our pocket.

HENRY: The first thing that I tell my clients is you got to know your audience. You got to know the people that are walking in your front door. And you really got to know what makes Johnnie, that sits at the corner side of the bar every Thursday, you got to know what makes him tick. And when you get personable with your audience through your branding, that’s what separates you from your competition. So, you have two bars Nick. You have a great pulse on the community with those two locations and you have your local customers don’t you?

NICK: Right.

HENRY: So it’s understanding them and then creating a consistent message that goes out to your community and talks about some of the things that makes these folks tick that’s really going to connect with your target audience. So how do you do that? Consistent marketing message and consistent brand identity. That’s how you do it.

NICK: I explain this to all my clients and my audience. I think one of the best ways with branding, is just by number one, starting with lead generation in terms of getting people to hand over their information for some type of offer and getting them to say, “Hey I want to do business with you here’s my information please send me that.” I want to come in and do business with you but in relation to the follow up from before…you’re saying the consistent marketing messages of getting that to them results in that a lot of bar/restaurant owners can’t keep affording to spend money on radio, TV, Mass media and getting that marketing messages out there. But they can spend money to generate these leads, get people who are interested and have the disposable income to go to bars and restaurants. But then that consistent follow up message of communicating with them. I think that’s branding as well because sometimes people feel branding is maybe just the image or the design. But I think it’s also about the communication, the messages that we’re sending to our audience which is perfect through e-mail or even through Facebook posts that are just targeting those specific people. What would you say about that?

HENRY: I think that there’s a there’s three parts of branding that everybody should understand. There’s the brand identity, the brand messaging and the brand experience. When they walk through that door, what is the experience that they’re going to have? And then, during that experience how are you making them feel? What are they going to say about you after they leave your establishment? Identity messaging and experience must all be consistent in order for you to have a successful brand. It’s powerful stuff and that’s why these bigger brands are dominating because they’ve mastered it. I want to take this a step further for a second and ask you this, “Now that you’ve established that (Branding)…now what happens? The biggest thing that I want to address is, a lot of the bigger brands nowadays are coming down into the “personal level” and they’re becoming very personable with their audience. Look at the big pizza chain that is Papa John’s. That guy is on every single commercial. He’s the face now of Papa Johns. And he’s done a tremendous job on connecting his personality to his audience, and that’s what I encourage all of my restaurant clients to do. Everybody loves to chum-it-up with the owner.

NICK: I agree and I’m glad you brought that up because people want to do business with people who they like and trust. And one thing I always try to focus on, especially when it comes to lead generation side of things is, when communicating with my audience, I want them to feel like they know me on a personal level even if they’ve never met me before. Just like you said with the guy from Papa John’s…do you know his name I can’t think of his name.

Is it John? Let’s just call him Papa John.

He’s interacting, he’s talking and people feel like they know him just because of his commercials and I think that’s really important. I think you’re right that a lot of companies are doing that and one of the best ways (to achieve this) just like you said, he’s done all these commercials. Video is getting to be huge. What are some video branding strategies? I’ve worked in so many different clients before where they just hate technology. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s some things that we and there’s some things we don’t like but there’s very simple ways to create video these days where staff members and managers can do that stuff. But what are some unique video branding strategies that just about any bar/restaurant owner could do with their iPhone? It’s not like you’ve got to have this big video crew come in and do a $10000 commercial but what have you seen? What ideas do you have for some video branding strategies that makes you stand out from the competition and makes people want to do business with you versus the competition?

HENRY: Well everybody, all of us, have this weird thing inside of us about “voyeurism.” We love to be that fly on the wall to our favorite celebrities and secretly follow them around and be behind the scenes. And I found in my business, and a lot of my clients’ businesses when I tell them to shoot some behind the scenes video on some of the things that they are working on or some other team efforts that you guys do. Maybe you guys do some charitable stuff and maybe you guys sponsor softball teams or so on and so forth. People love to see that behind the scenes action.

That’s one actionable video strategy that I would recommend you do because people…

NICK: …what about making a certain new menu item in the kitchen or something like that. That’s kind of like a behind the scenes in the kitchen cooking it, from scratch and, [then saying] “hey here’s what’s on special this week or something like that…”

HENRY: Exactly. Or Joey that comes in every Tuesday, recommended something. Now you implemented that and created a promo item from it. Maybe you call it “Joey’s special.” What did you do? You included an Audience member, which is going to increase your engagement, increase your likability. It’s going to bring in that personal touch. And then the second part is, “hey this is how we’ve created that.” Literally, you’re doing this on an iPhone and you’re saying, “hey guys we just had this awesome recommendation by one of our customers and we’re actually going to put that into action this week.” So… meet Joey, Joey was ‘blah blah blah’ and then you go into it. That’s it. So it’s a couple minutes. People, who are going to connect with that video on so many different levels.  You’re kind of sneaking in the promo into the video. So maybe the call to action at the end of the video would be like, “Hey guys, this promo is only going to be going on until this Thursday, if you want to grab the Joey special make sure you come in between four and eight during happy hour to grab it.” There you go, there’s your ad. Then you just became intentional with that video piece of content.

NICK: I like that. I like that. Do you have any other ideas for video? I really wanted to pick your brain on video just because it’s becoming so popular and there’s so many people engaging with video and it’s so cheap. YouTube and Facebook video ads, Instagram video ads are so inexpensive compared to TV and everything else that’s out there and people can visually see this stuff. But what else would you say, perhaps showing some of the food items, the drink items, some of the behind the scenes type stuff? Would you say those are probably the best things for bars and restaurants to implement?

HENRY: Here’s the thing. People buy experiences. They buy feelings. That’s what they buy. They’re not buying that cheeseburger. They’re not buying that beautiful Filet Mignon. They’re buying that experience; they’re buying that feeling that when they come into your establishment something happens to them. With video, when I tried to do and this isn’t necessarily just for restaurant owners, this is for any client in any business. If you can showcase, for example. Let’s put this in the context. I’m working with a restaurant right now and helping them build their brand and their marketing. And I said I would love to have you shoot…and this is where you may want to invest in a decent quality video with some editing. So you hire a videographer and they create for you maybe a couple one-minute to two-minute edited videos and you’re showing great customer experience, you’re showing people laughing, you’re showing people enjoying their meal. You’re showing people among their families. People are going to say, “that’s what I want! That’s the experience…that’s the feeling that you’re demonstrating. I would invest. The behind the scenes stuff unedited broad cut stuff is fun but I still think there’s some video that must be professionally done that captures that feeling in spirit and experience that I’m talking about.

NICK: And what I’ve done before just for people listening or watching this or even reading this on my web site. I’ve hired videographers to come out and have done it on trade. Two, three, four or five hundred bucks for certain video projects so it only cost me maybe $100-$150 bucks in goods in order to get a nice video done and then when you’re putting it on Facebook/YouTube it’s pretty inexpensive.

I don’t want people thinking they have to spend a ton of money. Or it also depends on the area here. When you’re located in downtown New York where you’re close by, things are going to be a lot more expensive than rural Arkansas for example.

HENRY: Bartering is a great idea. If you find somebody who’s a videographer and is one of your customers you say, “HEY!”

NICK: I wanted to touch on video but I also want to touch on the design side of things for social media and even newspaper. You’ve done some awesome work for me and what I will do under the video on our Web site, I will put a couple of those social media images on there that you’ve done for me like you did that “Dollar Burger” one for me as well as the Taco Ones. Those turned out great. What kind of tips can you give to people for designing a great looking ad. What are the things you don’t want to do and what are the things you really do want to do?

HENRY: Excellent questions. Some elementary fundamental things that you should do with all of your advertising design is this; you want to pick a color scheme and stick with it. You want to pick a font selection and stick with it and make sure that every single one of your pieces of design has either your logo on it and/or your website or some sort of call to action that says, “Hey do this!” That’s the direct response that Nick was talking about before. That really separates you from the competition because you cannot expect your viewer of that ad to take action on it without you deliberately saying, “Hey come on do this!” I’ve learned that the hard way over many years. When I began, when I would do ads for my company where I just thought that, “oh yeah…it’s expected for them to pick up the phone and call me or it’s expected for them to visit the URL that’s underneath my logo.” If you don’t have the word VISIT next to your logo, your URL or your Web site domain name…you’re leaving money on the table.

NICK: It sounds like common sense but people literally have to be handheld to take that action. And I’ll just chime in a little bit on this too. When it comes to the free social media stuff I always tell my clients, ” If you want to put something out free and just do a nice looking design and just say, ‘hey here’s our specials.’ Great. But if you’re spending money, you got to be able to track it and figure out if people are coming in for that. So there needs to be some type of call to action. Maybe show this post or click this link and they go to the web page in order to get this coupon downloaded and enter in their information whatever it may be. Some way to track it. I just see so many bars and restaurants exactly what I used to do. Just like I told you; nice picture of our food. Here’s our logo like me on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. This and that are address and all that kind of stuff. But I was spending hundreds if not a thousand to fifteen hundred dollars a month on that type of advertising but not seeing any kind of results because so many bars and restaurants advertise that way. It’s “Here’s our special, here’s our promotions…” However, what I learned is more of a direct response way, where we could still get great branding, we could still put all that out there but have a call to action.

So you can track to see if this is working or not because if you’re spending a thousand bucks on ads and people aren’t coming in for it. Don’t keep running it. But some people just keep running it because the law of business says you got to keep marketing, got to keep marketing, it costs money to make money. But if you see something’s not working don’t keep doing it over and over and over.

HENRY: What you want to do is; do over-and-over what works.

NICK: Exactly. Those are some great tips because as I’ve found myself in the past talking about the whole design stuff, stick with the color scheme, stick with the fonts. The right type of fonts. Ever since you started doing stuff for me. This is what our stuff has to look like and I’ve had people reach out to me, “Who does your design work who does this. This looks great…” Now we try to focus on using that font all the time and I’ll put some of those images down below. But I think that it just makes you stand out. And when everybody else is…I see a lot of bars and restaurants in our area. They’ll do Facebook and they’ll go find the image off of Google and just put that on there. And I think that kind of hurts you because you need to be taking photos of either A) exactly what you have there… a great looking product or image in the fonts and all that kind of stuff. Or the design stuff you do, where you buy these high quality stuff (images), high quality fonts and you put a nice background and you can put those types of things together. You’ve done stuff for me before where the image wasn’t something from the bar. Then you had on stuff where it is images from the bar.

But I think it all just falls in line with each other just from the color schemes and the fonts that are used like you see the same thing. And now when people see that they can say, “Oh that’s Casey’s or oh that’s Rural on Tap,” without even seeing our logo.

HENRY: I just want to plant the seed with your audience as well. When people see amateur and unprofessional designed ads. Subconsciously, they think that you have poor quality food and poor quality customer service and a poor quality brand overall. But when they see that polished picture and the consistency in the branding. Everything looks…look at Houlihan’s. Look at TGI-Fridays. Look at those bigger brands. They’re all so consistent. And when you go there, the experience is consistent as well. The food is consistent as well. You only get one shot to make a first impression. And if you’re if you’re going to start grabbing a low resolution poor imagery off of Google just to throw something up. Like Nick said, you hurting yourself.

NICK: And it’s just like a web site. Think about it. I’m sure a lot of us could say the same thing. We’ve gone somewhere to a Web site to go buy something. It looks like it was done in the 80s or the early 90s and we’re like, “oh well I’m to go back to Google and find something else that looks newer, that looks more professional. That same type of thing comes to what you’re putting out there on social media, in the newspaper or whatever. I’ve done a lot of newspaper ads and a lot of the times they’ve wanted to do their own designs and stuff for me and I’ve let them and I look at it and I’m like this looks – bad. They take some clip art and put an image of a clip art steak on there and this isn’t what I’m looking for! You made some great points and again I just want to pick your pick your brain on some video strategies and also print design type stuff, things for social media. What are the things you do want to be doing what are the things you don’t want to be doing? Because I think that will really help our audience. Is there anything else that you want to add in, where else can people get more information on you if they need some great design work?

If people don’t have a designer sometimes it’s hard to find people. They don’t know who to trust. They don’t know. Maybe you can show them some examples or whatever it may be. Where Could they go?

HENRY: I’m heavily on Instagram, so if you go to unique_designz, you can catch me there and then you can also just come to my Web site at and you’ll see my story you’ll see what we actually do for our clients and how help you get the results you’re looking for with your brand name and your messaging. And Nick, an awesome job again on this podcast. I love what you’re doing. I love the value that you’re giving to your audience and…

NICK: Thanks for signing the cover of the podcast. You designed the cover of it.

HENRY: I did. It’s just a pleasure to work with you because you know what you want and you’re just looking to leverage that time. One thing that I can empathize with all of the bar and restaurant owners out there is that TIME is very limited. There’s only so much we can do. You will become extremely overwhelmed when we try to take it on all ourselves. And when you find that right designer, you find that right person that can help you take your business, take the things that you want to take to the next level without you having to do it. The biggest thing that grew my business.

NICK: Yeah, definitely. I appreciate that Henry. I will leave links to your web sites, Instagram all that stuff below. I’ll even through images of the things you’ve done for me, besides the podcast cover. Some of the stuff you’ve done for Casey’s and Rural on the web page as well. I appreciate it. And we’ll be talking soon.


Nick Fosberg

Nick Fosberg is known as one of the highest paid, marketing and promotional consultants in the bar & restaurant industry and he owns 2 bar / restaurants in the Chicagoland area. He's famous for creating some of the highest grossing digital marketing promotions in the history of the bar & restaurant business..... without spending a penny on marketing. All done through e-mail & Facebook posts. 

Click here to get a free copy of my latest book.

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  1. Yes I agree with the steps to atain a superior market image and branding, but you neglected to speak about the importance of the design of the restauant space which is much more fundimental to the dinning experience and branding than any commercial or print ad. Once again hiring a professional designer is a faulty step that forever ruins the market image.

    1. Adrian, Yes you are 100% correct on that. We were focusing more on the marketing of getting new / existing customers in the door for various specials / promotions. The design of the restaurant space is VERY important as well. If you do GREAT in all those areas while giving GREAT service – you’ve got the perfect formula for success in this business. Thanks for making a point of that. I hope that better helps others understand and I should have mentioned that within the show.

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