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Food and social networks, the brands look to viral communication

New marketing strategies for bars and restaurants. The US experience

© Cha Cha Matcha

What is the secret of success for a new brand in the restaurant field? Build it ad hoc to make it go viral on social media. This is the recipe recommended by designers who have been hired to handle the image of new venues in recent years. They include Laureen Moyal and Devi Rhodes, the founders of Paperwhite, a branding firm that opened in 2013 and now counts three offices: in New York, Chicago and Graz, in Austria.

“What do we do? We transform everyday experiences into iconic identities and lasting impressions – explain the two American designers; our work seeks to distinguish the new brands by means of a carefully developed concept that can capture the public”, meaning people who go to a restaurant, order and post the photo of the meal and the drinks they are enjoying, because they are perfectly formulated to be “instagrammable“, i.e. photographed and posted on the social media of images par excellence.

The app currently counts over a billion active users and that number is rising constantly. Purchased by Facebook in 2012 for 1 billion dollars, today Instagram is worth 100, and prospects are that in five years it will have 2 billion registered users.

While in the last decades of the twentieth century the brand designers for major companies had to think of formats that would work for TV, magazines and billboards, it is clear that the battle now takes place on social network

© Paperwhite Studio

Jack’s Wife Freda, a bistro with two venues in New York for which Paperwhite did the branding, is an example of how graphics and design can provide a decisive input to make a bar go viral. The strong point? Small details, such as bags of sugar printed with cute phrases such as “Sugar for My Honey” or “I Love You a Latte”, that are perfectly suited for the format of an image that works on smartphones, and has impeccable culinary optics. Visual input that translates into photos and posts on social media: in other words, free publicity for the restaurant. The secret is not actually to fit into current trends, but to create a new one that can attract people, primarily by means of the experience you want people to have in the venue, and only second for the products it offers. One example? Cha Cha Matcha, in Manhattan, a café where you can buy matcha, a kind of Chinese tea, and one of the latest trends in the world of cuisine, also used to make desserts and foods of every kind. The particularity of the place, whose image is handled by Manufactur, a design and marketing firm based in Los Angeles, is something else.

© Cha Cha Matcha

Many of the people who go to Cha Cha Matcha care less about buying one of the products than having their photo take in front of the neon sign reading “Matchas Gracias

“Trends are part of our collective aesthetic – explained Moyal – they identify what we like at a certain moment in a certain space, and I believe it’s hard not to take this into account in the design”. A revolution in advertising. “We see that brands depend increasingly on social media – states Nicholas DeNitto, a partner of Manufactur – and for restaurants, Instagram is considered the most valuable platform. When clients ask us to design a brand, at the same time they want to know how to share the contents, how to photograph the various elements and how to position the furniture to make it photograph best”.


translation by Olga Barmine

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