How you can make your advertising more effective by stimulating senses

How you can make your advertising more effective by stimulating senses

Have you ever walked out of a store, not entirely sure why you just purchased something?

None of us should be a stranger to the confusing aftermath of an impulse buy like this. In fact, it’s more likely that looking around your home, you could explain why you don’t need some of the things you own better than why you purchased them.

One may have even gone as far as to think that, at that moment, they were out of their mind. The funny thing is that this wouldn’t be far from the truth. Stimulation of senses or, an appeal to your unconscious mind is often driving your behaviour as a consumer.

Sensory Marketing

Gone are the days where marketing tactics rely on concrete product factors to attract consumers. By relating to people in a far more personal way, sensory marketing utilises stimuli to activate senses and encourage them to act according to emotional impulses, to buy a product. Not because of what it is but, because of the way it makes them feel. Regardless of whether it is more expensive.

It is for the same reason human-like personalities are created in brands; to create brand loyalty through the good thoughts and feelings encouraged by a brand’s image.

Senses stimulate emotions

People are more likely to choose a product over another on the basis of a stimulating of senses. Such is why Millenials still prefer physical books over their digital version because of the emotional attachment that comes with owning, holding and using a physical thing. Like using a particular brand can make consumers feel positive and as though they belong to a part of a larger group, the sound, smell and tactile experience of a book, stimulates a sense of fondness, self and belonging in users.

Senses stimulate memory

People also remember more when they use a combination of their senses. 30-40% of people are tactile, meaning they will process, register and remember things better when they are touching them. But the benefits far outweigh an increased ability to remember. By being able to physically touch your advertisement, they will build a sense of trust with your brand – unparalleled by any other medium.

So how can you connect with your prospects physically?

The reason print outperforms so many other mediums with its ability to convert customers is it allows for boundless creativity and arousal of feeling – and the stimulation of tactile senses.

If your goal is to build trust, increased conversion rates and quicker sales, print advertising needs to be part of your arsenal.

A simple introduction to split testing and how you can use it to boost your advertising ROI

A simple introduction to split testing and how you can use it to boost your advertising ROI

Split testing sounds incredibly scientific, doesn’t it? Well it kind of is but it’s also a fascinating way to find out what works – and what doesn’t – with regards to your advertising activities. After all, you’re spending a decent wad of cash on paid advertising campaigns; you don’t want to just throw your money up in the air and see where it lands.

What is split testing?

In a nutshell, it’s a way to determine which of multiple strategies is more effective. You start by segmenting a small part of your database into equal portions and then send a variant of the same advertisement to each segment. Once you determine which variant is most effective, you can then send that out to the remainder of the database. Alternatively, you can split test the entire campaign from the beginning, and use the results as a way to improve future campaigns.

Here’s an example

The subject line of an email is, arguably, the most important item of real estate in the whole message. After all, if it doesn’t capture the reader’s curiosity, it could get lost in a sea of other emails they receive that day. Your email subject line will determine your open rate, so one key measurable figure you can use to test the effectiveness of each of your split test options is to see how many people open each variant.

Boring: A message for you from Viking Tyres
Split test option 1: Your tyres are bald? Lucky we’re on sale!
Split test option 2: 30% off compact car tyres – today only

Boring: We’re looking for blood donors
Split test option 1: Free snacks, a short nap and save three lives … you in?
Split test option 2: 500mls of your lovely blood can save THREE lives this week

Don’t forget to track the results of your split testing

Remember that the goal of split testing is to see which version of your campaign delivers the best results, and to do that, you need to be able to track results. This can take a number of forms and will depend on your campaign goals. In some cases it could be that you would like visitors to visit a particular page of your site; another may be that you would like them to book in a meeting, or it may be as simple as a purchase.

What aspects of a campaign can you split test?

Throughout an ad campaign, there are multiple points that can be plumped to be more powerful. Be mindful of split testing too many components at once, or you won’t be able to pinpoint exactly what change is that’s delivering better results.

  • Choice of images – Will provocative imagery or soothing, warm-and-fuzzy imagery be more effective? Could you swap out a couple of product photos for pics of people actually using the products? Consider two separate approaches as your A and B options and see which performs better.
  • Headlines – Option A could be hard-hitting and factual and option B could be a question that appeals to your audience’s sense of how it relates to them.
  • Use of graphics – Infographics, graphs, pie charts and tables don’t appeal to every person. Some prefer to digest their content in word form. Option A could be graphic-heavy and B could be word-heavy.
  • Calls to action – Experiment with different CTAs; not just the wording but the presentation as well. Whether it’s print or digital, the CTA could be red text on a white box or yellow text in a black circle. Try out different colours, shapes and sizes of ‘buttons’. Explore various versions of the text, such as: ‘Buy now’, ‘Shop now’ or ‘Click here to purchase’; or ‘Make a booking’, ‘Book now’ or ‘Claim your appointment here’.
  • Length of message – In a campaign with greater volume such as a blog post, landing page or direct marketing flyer, you can experiment with the length of the message. Short, sharp and concise may be perfect and bring you lots of conversions. Or, you may find that a longer, more detailed approach works better. Split testing will help you figure it out.
  • Freebie offers – Sometimes, the promise of a free product or service can get fingers clicking or dialling furiously. At other times, it can cheapen an offer. Same goes for ‘limited time only’ deals. Or, you can try out both. Create a free product offer for option A and a ‘limited time only’ offer for option B. The results could surprise you.
  • Testimonials – If you’re trying to decide whether a long-format or short-format campaign would be best, one way you can lengthen the item is by inserting authentic customer testimonials. They could be text-based only or could feature a photo of the customer and, if a business, the business’s logo. Quality over quantity is key to whether short- or long-format is best.

Hoops to jump through – Often, the more steps you expect your readers to take in order to perform the action you want them to perform, the more likely you are to lose them along the way. Requiring them to fill out too many fields in a form, expecting too much personal information and having them click through to another new tab are all barriers to conversion. But try the split approach and see which works for your particular audience.

Hopefully, by now, you understand what split testing is and how you can test it out on your own next marketing campaigns. If you need help or would like Emroy Creative Group’s in-house marketing expert to help with your strategy, head over here.

How to boost your word of mouth sales exponentially

How to boost your word of mouth sales exponentially

Word of mouth sales are the ‘holy grail’ that every business strives for, and why wouldn’t they? Consumers discuss specific brands casually around 90 times per week (source). 92 percent of people will trust recommendations from people they know (source). This represents a gold mine of sales waiting for you!

When interviewed, 4 out of 5 businesses wondered why they aren’t attracting enough word of mouth sales (source).

So why do so many businesses fail in attracting word of mouth sales and what can you do about it? Read on.


Tip #1: They need to remember you for word of mouth sales to happen

You may have the perfect product, coupled with fantastic service and offered at a great price. But in order to refer you, your customers need to actually remember your business when a conversation arises. Sounds simple enough? But how do you do that? You create a strong brand. If your brand fundamentals are strong and consistent (logo, colour, fonts, etc.), it will be easier for people to remember you.

It’s common knowledge that consumers need to see a business multiple times before they can remember it. Unfortunately, the number of times they need to see your brand is exponentially increased if what you are showing them is inconsistent.

Tip #2: They need a way to tell people about you

This used to be simple. You would leave your business card or flyer with a client and they would pass it along to someone else. While this still works exceptionally well, you have many more avenues available to you now.

A lot of word of mouth sales are generated via online reviews (especially on social media) these days. So make sure that the process of leaving you a review is simple, easy and straightforward. Ensure your business has an official presence on the most common places where people leave reviews. For example, places like Google My Business, Facebook, WOMO, Yelp and so on.

If you send out regular advertising material such as email newsletters, make sure you include a prompt or a button which allows readers to easily forward it on to others.

Tip #3: Give them something to talk about

Those ninety brands people talk about on a weekly basis normally have something happening that is worth talking about. Something like “Did you know Sandhurst Fine Foods has a new olive range that’s 100 percent grown in Australia?” (which they do, and it’s fantastic) is something that can easily and organically come up in conversation. But it won’t, unless you give your audience something to talk about and effectively get this news in front of them.

Tip #4: Reward them for sharing

‘Refer a friend and get…’ is incredibly common, because it works. People love freebies, discounts and bonuses and if you offer these to them as a reward for referring your business, they will be more inclined to do so.

If you aren’t receiving as many word of mouth referrals as you’d like, don’t automatically assume it’s a failure of your product, service or business. It means your marketing isn’t set up in a way that allows it to easily and organically happen.

How to correctly boost your social media following using offline advertising

How to correctly boost your social media following using offline advertising

Over the last couple of years, social media has become an integral part of most organisation’s communications strategy. It’s used to advertise, engage and to build brand awareness. To amplify your reach and make it easier for your customers to follow you, you will want to link your social media in as many places as possible – such as your website, email signatures, etc. But what about your printed material? Here’s how you promote your social media correctly.

All they need is a prompt

Let’s start with the basic question. Should you include social media in your offline advertising? Short answer, yes (with a few stipulations we’ve listed below). The reason is, people are more inclined to do something if they are prompted to (that’s why a call to action is so effective).  By including mentions of your social media on your offline advertising, recipients are more likely to interact with you.

If it’s not relevant, get rid of it

It should be of no surprise that space is a valuable commodity when it comes to printed media. As such, your social media information should only take up as much space as absolutely necessary.

What this means is that even if you’re across all of the social media channels, then you should only include your most relevant to the target of the advertising. If the piece you are working on is targeted towards the business community, Snapchat wouldn’t be relevant, but other platforms such as Linkedin, Facebook and twitter would.

Don’t include social media if you’re inactive

We’ve spoken numerous times about how important content marketing is. If you’re not actively using your social media, then don’t acknowledge its existence at all. The only thing worse than no social media presence, is one that hasn’t been updated since MySpace reigned supreme. The odd lull-period is fine, (within reason), but if you’re not going to engage with fans on these platforms, then don’t waste their time, and yours, by telling them to look you up. If you’re struggling with content, or simply remembering to push it regularly, it might be time to call in some support.

Don’t alter their logos

Like most multibillion-dollar companies, social media platforms are pretty protective of their branding and logos. So much so, that breaching their style guides could actually land you in legal strife. Now a good graphic designer will already know this and should advise you of these legal discrepancies during the design process, but it’s better if you understand this from the get-go.

Now realistically the lawyers of Facebook have probably got better things to do than to send cease and desist letters to “Jim’s plumbing”  over a stretched out logo on a business card, but the point still stands. Where you may come into greater problems is on larger print collateral where the logo alterations become more obvious. When using another organisation’s imagery, always consult their style guides if they’re available (a quick Google search will do in most cases) and when in doubt, play it safe. Not only is it poor form on your part, but it also looks unprofessional. (No, Brian, the LinkedIn logo would not look good on the side of a can.)

Another important thing to note is that you need to make sure you’re using up to date logos. Facebook, Twitter, etc. have all altered their logos over the last few years, and it’s incredibly telling when an organisation uses an outdated icon.

Finally, the inclusion of these social media icons shouldn’t draw any attention away from your own branding. Leave them as they are (often times they’ll have a solid white/black/etc. variation which you can use) and keep it simple.

Displaying your social media handles

The last time we posted an article like this (around 3 years ago) we recommended that you include your social media handle to make navigation easier. As the search functionality on all major social media platforms has grown and evolved, this is no longer necessary. Most customers will find you by searching your business name in the correct field. As such, leave them off, they are just clutter.

Here are four of the easiest ways to show your customers you care about them.

Here are four of the easiest ways to show your customers you care about them.

Please prepare yourself for the biggest revelation you’ll hear all day.


Customers like it when you’re nice to them. Better still, they love it when you go the extra mile for them.

This isn’t just basic common sense, however; according to McKinsey, 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. Given that clients are a business’ most important assets, it’s understandably in your organisations best interests to foster and maintain a positive relationship.

This doesn’t have to be overly complicated however, just a few small gestures can go a long way to winning the hearts of your customers. Here are our top 4 tips your business can use to create long-lasting client relationships.

Holiday cards

It may seem like standard procedure nowadays, but the impact of a thought out, considered card during the holidays could be considered monumental. Cards for Christmas, Easter, Lunar New Year, (Valentines Day?) are all really simple ways to execute this strategy. Holiday cards will reassure your client that they haven’t been forgotten in addition to making them feel special and acknowledged. Such cards also help keep your services fresh in their mind during what are often very busy periods for businesses.

The important part to keep in mind here is the “thought out”. You don’t need to write as though they’re your lover, but something with a little more depth than; Dear X. Merry Christmas. From Y Business.” is better. We’ve written about this in more detail here, but the lesson is, put a bit of effort in. You’re already investing in this strategy, so why not do it right?

Birthday cards

As you get older birthdays become less celebrated and so a card from your business will be a welcomed surprise. Keep track of your clients’ birthdays in your business calendar, and be sure to send out a card at the start of the month to each client due to celebrate a birthday that month. Clients rarely expect businesses to celebrate their birthdays – this gesture will show your business cares and help it stand out in your client’s mind.


Show your clients that you’re proud and supportive of them by sending your congratulations when they hit significant achievements. Your clients’ achievements and milestones deserve to be celebrated, and your business’s acknowledgement of this will show how invested you are in this relationship. You don’t need to send them a bottle of scotch (though I’m sure they wouldn’t say no!) just a card showing you care is enough.

Bonus tip – An easy way to keep track of these is simply to follow their social media channels; at the very least they’ll appreciate the extra engagement!

With compliments slips

With any official correspondence, it’s always nice to include a small, informal handwritten note to warm things up a little. To no surprise, a with compliments slip is perfect for that. In these situations remember to keep your message brief; there’s no need to write an essay. Even a simple ‘thank you’ will speak volumes to your clients’ and show that you are grateful for their business.

Greeting cards and ‘with compliments’ slips are great for businesses on a budget. You can pre-print these in bulk and ahead of time to save money, making them a great low-cost option to strengthen valuable relationships.

The art of brand language. Slogans, Taglines, and Mission Statements.

The art of brand language. Slogans, Taglines, and Mission Statements.

Slogans, Mission Statements and Taglines. We all think we understand what they are, but do we really?

Is McDonald’s “I’m lovin it” a tagline, or a slogan? If you guessed slogan, you would be sorely mistaken. The language we use around our brands is critical to telling its story and selling it to our customers and stakeholders. You might think your mission statement is just a puff-piece that every business is meant to have, but one that’s been executed well can significantly shape and define your company’s internal culture.

Similarly, a lot of businesses will slap together a slogan and shoe-horn it into some of their marketing, without any consideration for what it actually means when tied in with the rest of the collateral.

There are a lot of mixed opinions on terminology when it comes to this sort of language, so here at Emroy Creative Group, we’re here to set the record straight. Here are the three core types of brand language and what each of them actually means.

Just do it.

Taglines are the little phrases at the end of branding pieces that reinforce that companies identity. They should be short and powerful, the bit of copy that your customers would recognise first. Think Nike’s Just do it or Woolworths’ The Fresh Food People. Now, a lot of people would argue that these phrases are actually slogans. They are wrong. A slogan should be your business’s ‘why’, where you tell your audience why they should pick your product or service, what you do, or why you do it. Just Do It, or The Fresh Food People don’t really tell you why these companies exist. Oh, Woolworths has fresh food? Well, knock me over with a feather.

Like a clever punchline, this brief statement is used in marketing to create a memorable brand and can often change over the years with the advent of new campaigns. Your business’s tagline should, of course, be relevant to its values and what it does, but at the end of the day, it’s not your why. It’s a brand marker, short and memorable so that consumers can recall your brand more easily.

But why?

In just one sentence, the slogan needs to convey your ‘why’. Why should customers spend their money with you? Basically, in the context of a goal or point of differentiation, what is it that your brand does? While it should be concise, your slogan should be just long enough to evoke some emotion, while also identifying what it is that the company offers.

In Nike’s case, their slogan is actually “Inspiration and Innovation for Every Athlete in the World”. Just do it doesn’t tell you anything about the company. Outside of the ingrained brand association that Nike has created between them and their tagline, there is absolutely no way you could draw ‘just doing it’ and ‘shoes’ together. Inspiration and Innovation however, does. What does Nike do?  They develop innovative shoes with for every athlete that will help inspire them to achieve better.

Another well-celebrated slogan is FedEx’s “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” Straight away you understand their point of difference and their why. Why are they different? They’ll make sure your stuff gets there when you need it to. Why? Because you need it to be. That, is an effective slogan.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it.

When I think of mission Statements, I generally think of this scene from Daddy Day Care. It’s a long-winded, wanky document full of buzzwords and irrelevant jargon that no one understands and no one other than senior management cares about. This is not what a Mission statement should be. At all. Instead, a Mission statement should inform and inspire the organisation from within, giving employees and other stakeholders the why and how of your business. While the Mission statement can be shared with your customers, this statement is most effective when designed to be an internal document; one that is created in collaboration with all of the decision makers of the brand, not just one department.

Taking another look at Woolworths, we can see that their Mission statement is currently “We bring a little good to everyone, every day”.
So why is this a Mission statement and not a Vision statement or a slogan? Well, if you look at other Woolworths collateral (such as their Annual Reports) the idea of bringing a little good – good food, good prices, and good acts – is consistent with current company-wide goals and motivations. Everyone working at Woolworths can bring a little good to everyone, every day. Whether you’re the Managing Director or a service cashier, everyone can make someone else’s life a bit better.

Basically, it clearly defines the company objectives and how they go about fulfilling them. It tells you succinctly what Woolworths does in today’s market, and why. It doesn’t get carried away with exotic language and hollow sentences; instead telling its audience very clearly what they believe. Woolworths wants to bring a little good to everyone, every day. It doesn’t map out an exact strategy, determine who ‘everyone’ is, or any other super-specific details. It just tells you their overarching mission. Bringing a little good to everyone, every day.

In a similar stream of Mission statements we’ve got Facebook’s, which is “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”  Again, short and to the point. What does Facebook want to do? Give people the power to share and make the world more connected. Straight away you understand what they’ve set out to achieve and broadly, how they’re achieving it.

To the unfamiliar eye, brand language can often feel like waffle thought up by someone trying to justify their paycheque. Often times this is true. However, when it’s done correctly, the right brand language can significantly influence the trajectory of an organisation and its campaigns.

Establishing your brand from a point of difference

Establishing your brand from a point of difference

If your goal is to establish brand loyalty in your customers (and why wouldn’t it be?) then you need to establish a point of difference (POD). All too often I see the same, confused look on a client’s face when I ask what should otherwise be a simple question; “What is your business’s point of difference?”. In other words, what makes you ‘special’?

This one question should underpin every business decision you make going forward.

Effectively, you shouldn’t be consulting with your graphic designer without a clear marketing plan. Having your business goals on paper is critical to ensure branded assets are constructed with clear intention. Building your marketing plan will allow you to reflect on what makes your business different to your competitors; allowing you to gain better insight into who your target audience is. It’s this knowledge that allows you to successfully target the right audience, with the right message, via the right medium.

Don’t just know – live, breathe and embody your brand! After all, your brand should be a reflection of your values, your service and your commitment.

It’s not all about the money, money, money.

Often times when asked this question a business owner will tell me that they’re cheaper and better than their competitors, and in theory, this is a perfectly fine POD. However, if you are going to do a price-based point of difference, you need to be able to commit to it and deliver it consistently. This may lead to having to cut into your bottom line.

A price point of difference is generally a more effective strategy if you can capitalise on economies of scale. If you’re not sure what this means, basically the greater your buying power, the more you can negotiate on price. For large corporations like Bunnings and Officeworks (both have a “beat it by 10%” type guarantee) this works well. In contrast, if you’re a corner store, you’re probably not going to be able to compete against the likes of Coles or Woolworths on price alone. This is where other strategies come into play.

What makes you so ‘special’?

Here’s the thing. Every business exists to make a profit. Yes, there’s the desire to provide a solution to a problem, do good, and to make a difference. Fundamentally however, you’re here to make money. Everyone knows this, that’s just how businesses work. How you differentiate yourself after that is what’s important.

Let’s say that you’re running a cosmetics business. There are more businesses in this sector than you can shake a pore strip at. So you need to stand out, be different. Your brand uses predominantly natural products that are vegan-friendly and aren’t tested on animals. Awesome. There’s one already. The ingredients you use are locally sourced to support Australian farmers. Bingo, now we’ve got two. These are the qualities that shape and influence how your brand should be perceived by your target audience. Too many brands opt for a stock standard industry “look” rather than taking the time to consider what makes them special. In many ways your business is a living entity. It’s the sum of your goals, ethics, and values: these all influence just what your brand is, and how it is perceived.

If you truly want to carve out a position in the market, then you need to have a reason to be there.

Scream it from the rooftops!

Determining your POD’s is a fundamental part of setting your business up for success. It’s these POD’s that (if done well) will underpin your entire branding and marketing strategies going forward. Unless you’re after a run of the mill, middle-market standardised product, having the lowest price probably isn’t going to be the greatest concern to your target audience. Instead, they want to know how and why your brand connects with their values. Going back to the cosmetics example, just by determining and acknowledging what your point of difference is (ie, that they’re eco friendly) you can very easily establish who your target audience is. From here, a good designer, marketer, and web developer can forge a brand identity that is receptive to your customers’ wants, needs, and desires.

As noted earlier, knowing what your point of difference is, also means knowing who your target audience is; meaning you can then determine how to market to them. If your customer base is eco-conscious mothers living in suburbia, then LinkedIn probably won’t be your channel of choice when it comes to getting your message out there.

When you know your POD’s, you have a golden path to sales. You can market what makes you stand out and make sure potential and new customers know what makes you special.

Our top 3 tips to keep on top of your Christmas marketing this year

Our top 3 tips to keep on top of your Christmas marketing this year

With Christmas less than two weeks away there’s not much else on people’s minds. Have we bought Jennifer’s copy of Super Smash Bro’s? What about Michael’s box-set of The Vampire diaries? Are either of them still even in stock???

The point is, your business is probably not at the top of their list of priorities at the moment. This is obviously in-ideal for you, but it can also work against their interests. When everything is coming at you at once, you tend to forget or miss details that otherwise wouldn’t slip you by. (Such as a great deal, or forgetting to stock up on business stationary so that it’s ready for the new year)

Here are our top 3 tips on maximising your Christmas marketing presence this holiday season.

Bolstering your online collateral

As is to be expected, Christmas time is peak season for all things marketing related. With our near-constant connectedness to social media and the internet, this is true now more than ever before. Unless you live in a shack out in the wilderness, the onslaught of Christmas marketing is virtually inescapable. While it may feel almost dirty to be adding to that noise, sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.

If you haven’t done so already, Christmas themed landing pages are a great way to push your holiday promotions without undergoing a total redesign of your website. You can temporarily use one as your home page, and run the rest of your website as per usual (though a little Christmas iconography wouldn’t go astray! Remember, consistency is key!). This is a fantastic way to embrace the Christmas spirit, without breaking the bank.

As a means of targeting your existing customers directly, you can’t go past EDM’s (Electronic Direct Mailouts). Email newsletters give you an easy means of ensuring that your client-base is aware of any specials you may be offering, as well as any changes in opening hours over the holiday season. Christmas email blasts do work better if you’ve already established precedent with consistent email newsletters throughout the year, however you generally still can get away with them even if this is not the case. Remember, no time like the present!

Additionally, starting now means you’ll be all set for next year’s holiday season!


Flyers are a fantastic and inexpensive way to remind your target market about your products and specials in the lead up to Christmas. The nature and format of a flyer means that you can very easily convey Christmas information / specials in a way that doesn’t impede information consumption by your audience.

Flyers can also easily be pinned to fridges / cork boards / etc. without taking up too much space, this can discourage customers from immediately throwing out your flyer (and forgetting about it) and instead keeping it around until they are ready to take action.

It’s important to remember however that your flyer is an advertisement, not a business card. You need to include information that’s going to catch your audience’s interest. If all your flyer says is “Bobs Bottle Making” then what’s the point? Christmas time is full of noise and you need to be targeted if you want to break through it. Customers are interested in their own needs or wants. Address them.

Social Media

In addition to your dressing up your website, your social media platforms also need to reflect this most wonderful time of the year. Stick a santa hat on your logo and if possible make your cover photos a little more festive. Not every post you make needs to be festive and full of cheer (unless it’s appropriate for your business, it could get just a little bit old) but try to schedule a few in the lead up to the big day. We recommend posts like a Christmas team photo,  Christmas specials, charitable activities (perhaps you donated to Food Bank or OzHarvest and wanted to encourage others to do the same.) and just anything else you can relate to your business in a Christmas-ey way.

Also no, the obligatory “We will be closed from x date to y date due to Christmas” message does not count.

Christmas Marketing may sound stressful, but with a little thought and preparation (even at the last minute) you can nail it with ease.

How restaurant menu designs influence what customers buy from you, explained with science

How restaurant menu designs influence what customers buy from you, explained with science.

In many ways, it’s a visceral experience. Sure, we eat to survive, but we also eat to socialise, to comfort, and for fun. It is with this in mind that I note that not all food is created equally. Those 50c instant noodles you ate as a poor student are *probably* not on the same calibre as the food from a Michelin Starred restaurant. Shocking, I know.

There are a number of factors that play into our perceptions of the food in front us, and perhaps most notably is the aesthetics.

Aesthetics are critical in cuisine, and I’m not just referring to the food itself. Everything from lighting and ambience to the type of seating you’re on, influences your perception of the quality of the food. A meal in front of the TV or in bed probably doesn’t have the same significance or novelty as a formal meal around the dinner table.

These same factors apply to restaurants. However with restaurants, it really matters how customers perceive your food. A poor dining experience will often discourage customers from returning, and no one wants that to happen (Well, maybe your competitors do).

One of the most important elements of any restaurant is the menu. They’re one of the first things you look at when in a restaurant and, you usually need one to make your culinary decision.  It’s because of this reason that it’s so important to get them right. To make it easier for you, we’re going to break it down into three different categories on how to do your menus well, with science to back it up.

Optimise, mise, baby.

In a standard (full-service) restaurant or cafe, the average customer typically spends no more than 109 seconds studying the menu before they make a decision. Despite often claiming to the contrary, most individuals do not in fact read every item on the menu items before making a decision. This is typically because most individuals have some degree of a default option when they eat out.

Generally speaking, most researchers have found that when consumers scan a menu, their eyes tend to gravitate first towards the upper right-hand corner. Within the restaurant industry this is otherwise known as the “Sweet Spot”. Consequently, a lot of culinary establishments place the items they want to sell the most of, up there.

Secondary to this tactic is placing key staples directly below that top right hand corner. First and foremost what this does is make every other item that succeeds it appear much more reasonably priced. Secondarily, it makes the food appear of a higher quality, meaning customers feel more satisfied when they leave. Within reason, higher prices equate to a higher perception of the food being served. For example in a New York study, economists from Cornell University gave participants an $8 buffet ($11 AUD) or a $4 ($5.50 AUD) buffet at an Italian restaurant. While the food was exactly the same, those who paid $8 rated the pizza 11% tastier than those who paid $4. Moreover, the latter group suffered from greater diminishing returns—each additional slice of pizza tasted worse than that of the $8 group.

Kiss. Keep it simple, stupid.

Lists are overwhelming. There are very few people in this world who look at giant list full of things and think “this right here, this is the stuff”. A menu design with several dozen options under each category creates nothing more than a net-loss situation. Sure, some customers may appreciate all of the different options to choose from, but by and large, most will not. Additionally, more food options requires a greater diversity in stock, leading to a greater risk of spoiled stock if its not used in time.

“Consumers are overwhelmed and confused by all the designs on the market and the truth is, we don’t actually need the choice.”

Instead, try to limit the number of options per category to seven. Three may well be the magic number, but seven is absolutely the golden number. This is because much like little bears’ porridge, it’s just right. Not too short that customers feel they have too little choice, and not too long that they begin to feel overwhelmed.

When consumers feel overwhelmed they’ll typically default to an item they’ve had before. Sometimes this works in your favour, but more often than not, it doesn’t. If you’re trying to entice restaurant-goers with something a bit more expensive, or encourage repeat customers (which account for about 70% of sales) it’s nothing more than an impediment. If you want customers to eat at your establishment time after time, make it easy for them to do so.

Whether you’re a speciality restaurant or a bistro, this strategy allows you to break your menu design up so that you can give your customers the illusion of choice without the stressful indecisiveness that comes with it.


Do you know the trick where cafes and restaurants omit dollar symbols from their prices on menus? Of course you do, everyone does. In spite of this, the psychological effect it plays on still works. A 2009 study found that when food establishments included dollar signs in its menu, customers were less inclined to purchase the big ticket items. Why? The dollar signs reminded them that they were spending money. Logically everyone knows that 23 is the same as $23, but for a lot of people, the irrational, hungry side of the brain just doesn’t see it that way.

Menus also need to be appropriate to the tone of the establishment. Over-sized laminated menus are typically found in low-budget establishments with a high turnover of customers (more customers means an increased chance that its going to be damaged/ stolen) and therefore result in a perception of poor quality and cheap foods. In contrast, a leather bound menu printed on fancy parchment with stylised graphics is going to suggest ideas of premium quality and service.

It’s okay if your restaurant is cheap, we can’t eat $100 meals all of the time, it’s just important to make sure that your menu design matches the tone of the rest of your establishment. To give you an idea of just how powerful this perception can be, even McDonalds looks fancy when they use premium tactics like a well-printed menu.

Look, menus aren’t the only thing that affects how and why customers buy from your restaurant, but they do still play a pretty significant role. Effective design and branding is critical in all businesses, and this is especially true when it’s a sensory experience. If you want to increase your sales, your menu design is likely a good first place to look.

Keen to get your menu to perform better? Why not get in touch today and see what we can do to help? 

Why a style guide is one of your organisation’s most critical assets

Why a style guide is one of your organisation’s most critical assets

As we discussed last week, branding is an inescapable facet of modern life; which is why it’s so important to get it right the first time. As a business, it’s important that your branding is consistent, lest it lose its effectiveness. Think about it, Coke-a-Cola wouldn’t be nearly as recognisable if it all of a sudden changed its branding to bright yellow. We know the iconic red, we know the iconic typography. Without them, it just wouldn’t be Coke. Coke-a-Cola has spent the last 130 years building up their iconic branding.

Now of course you don’t have 130 years to build your brand, and that’s fine. You don’t need that long. However, if you want to grow your business into a successful entity, then this is the level of care you need to be putting into your business’s branding. Everything has to be consistent, and a style guide guarantees that (assuming you follow it, of course).

But first, what is a style guide, and why should I care?/h2>
If you’re unfamiliar with what exactly a style guide is, let me break if down for you; put simply, a style guide is a manual or set of instructions which contains the core elements and rules of a brand.

Think of it as your brand’s ‘bible’. Everything from logo placement and spacing to the brand’s colour palette and typography should be included in this guide. Additionally, using a style guide will ensure that no matter who is creating material for your organisation, you’ll always remain on-brand.

This is important because humans are creatures of habit and familiarity. We typically trust what we recognise, meaning that you can’t take advantage of key marketing staples like the Mere Exposure Effect if your branding isn’t consistent. Maintaining brand consistency is critical for a successful marketing strategy; particularly if your goal is to maintain brand awareness and encourage customer loyalty in your product and / or service.

To put your new found understanding of what a style guide is to the test, have a read of the following and see if you can figure out what’s wrong;

A colleague was recently developing a PR strategy for a semi-major charity organisation in Australia. During his research he noted that there was zero consistency amongst any of their assets. For example some of their collateral used a brown version of their logo, while other pieces used a blue one. The organisation had already expressed concern over their current brand recognition but couldn’t work out what the issue was…
Any ideas?

If you guessed “inconsistent branding” then you guessed correct. Had the organisation used a style guide, staff could have easily referred to it when promoting the charity. This would have in turn  mitigated most of the issues they are currently facing.

So what do I include in my style guide?

In short, anything that relates to the the rules surrounding your business’s branding. Here’s a basic rundown of the things you need to consider including in your style guide;


One of most important and most obvious elements of the style guide are details about your logo. As the key graphic in your branding it’s critical that this remains consistent across all of your material.

Don’t want people changing the colour of your logo? Make sure you include that. Don’t want the HR department adding a drop shadow and a bevel emboss to make it look spooky for your Halloween event? Better put that in there as well.

It’s also important that your style guide includes instructions about the logo’s minimum size, and size in relationship to other assets. This includes the negative space between your logo and that of other organisations.

Colour Palette

The primary colour palette contains the core colours that should be used across all of your organisation’s communications channels. Typically your primary colours will be those included in your logo, in addition to any secondary colours that may be used in other branding collateral. Colour is an incredibly important component of your branding, and as we discussed last week, every colour conveys a different meaning to consumers.


All typefaces used within the logo and official communications should be a part of the style guide. In addition to this you should include their weights (refer to our typography article for more information) and a web safe alternative.

Why do I need to include a web- safe version I hear you ask? Because not every font is available for online purposes, meaning what the website shows, might not be in line with your branding.

Web Styles

In addition to your web– alternative fonts, it’s also important that you include guidelines surrounding other web elements that may be used in online branding. These guidelines will help developers keep elements such as buttons and forms consistent across multiple web-pages/ email signatures/ etc.

It doesn’t matter how good you think your branding looks, if it’s not consistent, it’s not doing it’s job the way it should be. Style guides keep everyone within your organisation informed and inline with your brand’s messaging. This allows you to better establish and grow your brand identity, and therein your standing within the community.

Getting your branding right is critical, and that’s what I do best. Why not book in a time to sit down and discuss your brand, today?