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May 2, 2022

What restaurants can tell us about branding — and why that matters

Today, any restaurant that isn’t just selling food for the sake of earning money is a brand. Find out what Philip Linnemann has to say about it.
May 2, 2022

Imagine you need advice about branding but can speak to only one person.

Your options include a marketing manager and a star chef.

According to Philip Linnemann of the Copenhagen-based branding agency Kontrapunkt, the genius in the chef's whites might be the best option.


Because "a lot of chefs and restaurants are ahead of all the marketing directors in the big corporate organisations,” says Linnemann on Superb’s podcast, The Recipe.

In episode 5, Linnemann explains what’s changed — and why it matters.

Why restaurants are brands

For years, restaurant “brands” were chains like McDonald’s or Burger King.

Today, any restaurant with “a higher sense of purpose” that isn’t “just selling food for the sake of earning money” is a brand, Linnemann says.

Increasing digitalisation also “gives brands a completely new platform and ability to engage with consumers at a much faster pace”, he says.

And that means many restaurants are brands, whether they realise it or not.

“Most restaurateurs are great at branding,” says Linnemann. “They just don't know it's called branding.”

How can all restaurants be more like Noma?

“What story do I want to tell?”

That's the question all restaurants should start with, says Linnemann.

“Ask yourself: why do I cook that? Everyone knows why they're cooking, why they're passionate about cooking,” he says. “Why is it important to you?”

Few are better at restaurant branding than Noma’s René Redzepi, he says.

“He understands this notion of building something much more than just a business — building a movement, essentially,” Linnemann says.
That's a very interesting thought for all restaurants to think about,” he adds.

What can restaurants teach other businesses about branding?

When it comes to restaurants and branding, it’s a two-way street.

Why? Because chefs are "incredible storytellers,” says Linnemann.

And what makes restaurants “so special and unique” is their ability to deliver an experience that activates all five senses, he adds.

Which is something few other companies or brands can do.

“Chefs and restaurateurs are brilliant at creating immersive experiences,” Linnemann explains.

And that opens the door to all sorts of opportunities for restaurants.

“I imagine a lot of brands will come to chefs and restaurateurs for inspiration about how to create engaging multi-sensory experiences,” Linnemann says.

How can restaurants change the world?


Restaurateurs and chefs have “the strongest tools available to persuade and change people's mindsets,” Linnemann says.

Indeed, he imagines a future in which restaurateurs "contribute to a better world through the way they cook and the stories they tell their customers.”

To listen to the full interview with Philip Linnemann, check out episode 5 of  The Recipe — “Brand and Deliver” — on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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