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6 Restaurant Menu Design Tips Your Brand Needs + Examples

The restaurant industry is special. Many who dive into this world, do so because they love it and cannot imagine doing anything else. And we can completely understand that feeling. 

But at the end of the day, running a restaurant is hard. And the restaurant industry is super competitive.

So building a brand in the restaurant industry to ensure people keep recognizing, and coming into your establishment must be every restaurant’s priority. That is what will bring longevity and sustainability into your world. 

Designing the best possible restaurant menu is the first step in this direction. 

In fact, the way you design your restaurant menu can have a direct impact on your daily revenue and the morale of your diners too. 

Intrigued to see how such a simple element can have such a huge impact? In this blog by Kimp, we cover the impact of a restaurant menu design with the best tips to make yours stand out too. 

Let’s get started. 

Why is restaurant menu design important? 

Restaurant marketing is tricky but effective if done right. And most of the time, restaurant brands focus on marketing tools like signage, social media marketing, Google My  Business marketing, and so on. Very rarely do people consider restaurant menus as one of the most significant pieces of marketing material. 

But it is definitely your ace if you get it right.

Why is that so? What do customers look for the minute they enter your restaurant, takeaway counter, website, or other online platforms? 

Yes, they love the story and the other designs you have going on, but it is these menus that they are there for. 

So this is the design that has to impress them instantly. You can showcase your branding, the theme of your restaurant, and even the USP via your menu design. A good restaurant menu design is especially important since today’s customers are browsing through countless restaurant options online before they pick one. The menu design can make the difference between them picking or ignoring your establishment. 

So what is a good restaurant menu design? And what do you need to look for so that the impact is effective? 

What makes a restaurant menu design a good design?

Sure aesthetic preferences can vary but by and large there are certain things every good menu design must include. And since many people consider design to be subjective, let’s clearly lay down the important characteristics to look for. 

A good restaurant menu design: 

  • Is readable 
  • Attracts customers to the food 
  • Upholds brand identity 
Readability

This is a fundamental part of your menu restaurant design. No matter how good your food item names are and how good the dishes taste, if the customer cannot read the information about them, all is lost. 

You need your menu design to be readable and scannable. Your customers must know what you serve and how to access that in a jiffy. Don’t make them root around for longer than 5 seconds or you will lose them. 

Designed by Kimp
Attractiveness

Dining out is as much a visual experience as it is gastronomical. You must have heard the saying that we eat with our eyes first. We know this is why chefs spend hours perfecting the presentation of their dishes. 

Extend the same courtesy to your menu design and ensure that your menu tempts potential customers into ordering the food right away. Even if someone comes in for coffee,  your menu’s design must tempt them to order more. 

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Designed by Kimp
Brand Identity

Last but not the least, a good restaurant menu design shows potential customers what kind of brand they are dining with. Is it a luxury restaurant or a mom-and-pop shop? Is it a small cafe or a bakery? All these things help set the right expectation with the customer leading to delight over time. When you communicate this information via design, the message is much more effective and stays with them for a longer time.

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Designed by Kimp

6 tips to create the best restaurant menu design 

So now we know how important restaurant menu designs are and what a good one looks like. But we are not going to stop here, are we? No, we are going to work together to understand how you can build one for your brand. 

That’s why Kimp has compiled some tips to create the best restaurant menu design for your brand.

Let’s dive right in. 

1. Show, don’t tell

What did we say a good restaurant menu does? It entices the customer to get ordering right away. Now, unless you are serving very popular dishes and are already famous amongst your target audience, a textual menu may not have the effect you want it to. Just think, if there is a picture of a blueberry cheesecake while the other desserts are just described in text, what will your audience gravitate towards? 

The cheesecake of course. That is why we recommend showing customers what they can expect from you instead of just writing it down.

The show and tell design strategy for restaurant menu designs also has another great advantage. It sets the right expectation and tells customers what exactly they are in for. This way, there is no confusion and your chances of impressing them goes up 10x. 

What can you use to include this feature in your restaurant menu design? 

  • Use icons to indicate spice levels, food consistency (liquidy, semisolid, and dry), and categories. Customers retain visual information longer and will remember icons more than what they read. 
  • As much as possible, include product images in your restaurant menu. Try to get images that closely resemble the finished dish if you cannot photograph them all. Or you can include custom illustrations to liven up the menu and visually represent the dishes. 

If you want a team to implement these insights, a Kimp Graphics design subscription is just a click away!

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Designed by Kimp
2. Let your food shine brighter than the price 

Yes, we know this sounds like a classic cliched marketing technique. But, hey don’t knock cliches until you have tried them. People love them because they work. In design, we have a technique we call visual hierarchy where we vary the size of different elements in a design in order to indicate the importance of each, and their relationship to each other. It is like creating a map for the customer, instructing them on how to navigate a design.

Extrapolating the same concept to a restaurant menu design, we recommend that you choose to showcase your products instead of their prices. Design and organize your menu in a way that leads customers to see the dish first and just glance at the price. If it is the other way around, they may miss some great products and you don’t get a chance to impress them. 

But how can you do that? 

  • Choose brighter colors for the product description than the price. Even in a monochromatic design or a black and white design, vary the hues to achieve this effect. 
  • Select larger, bolder, and stronger fonts for the dishes than their prices. This way, you create visual flow where the diner first sees the product and then moves to the price instead of the other way.

Kimp Tip: Even when you are varying the colors and fonts in the menu design to create visual hierarchy, do not include too many design elements. If the menu is not readable, none of this matters so keep it uniform with just a few variations. 

Read our guide on visual hierarchy to learn more about this important design principle.

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What do you see first in the designs above? The dishes or the prices? 

3. Highlight your best products 

Even with your dishes, you know some are bestsellers and some are not. You know which dishes can get customers to come in through the doors again and your staff recommends those to the newcomers every time. But what if someone does not ask the staff? What if they pick something to eat by themselves? This scenario is more likely if the customer is ordering online via an app or website. 

To solve this issue, a good restaurant menu design highlights your bestsellers over others. The minute someone looks at the menu, this is what they will see instantly. 

How can you do that? 

  • Publish pictures only of the bestseller dishes
  • Use a bigger font and brighter color to make the most popular dishes stand out. 
  • Use labels, banners, and odd placements to make dishes grab the diners’ attention. 

Kimp Tip: When you are seeking to highlight a particular dish, ensure that the image you use is as close to the final product. Do not compromise on the print quality too. Work with a design team like Kimp Graphics to ensure your design looks its best once printed. 

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Designed by Kimp
4. Keep it simple 

The first point in our list of criteria for a good restaurant menu design was that it is readable. Complicated designs with too many elements are anything but readable. If the customer has to spend time rooting through complex designs, they would much rather eat somewhere else or pick a random dish. 

We don’t want them to do that right? That is why we recommend adopting a modern and minimalist look for your restaurant menu designs. Here’s how:

  • Use less text in the menu design. Keep the description short and ensure that you don’t bog the customer down with too many details. 
  • Be mindful of negative space and white space to make the menu design user friendly online and offline. 
  • Keep the actual contents of the menu itself as simple as possible. None of us want customers to get reader’s fatigue and skip important details or offers. 

Kimp Tip: Adopting a white background for the menu design or going with a monochrome look are some ways you can keep your design simple. Whatever you choose, create mockups and printed samples before going live. 

With the Kimp Graphics unlimited graphic design subscription, you can iterate as much as you want with no additional charges. Our design subscriptions are available for flat monthly fees!

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Designed by Kimp
5. Let the design match the theme 

We spoke of how the best restaurant design is the one that expresses the brand and theme via its design. And that is true because showing is better than telling and this goes for branding too. Your menu must clearly define who you are so that the customer has clear expectations going in. 

What are some ways to ensure that a restaurant menu design matches your brand and theme?

  • Choose colors that will appeal to your target audience. For example, Do you want your restaurant to be a popular hangout for Gen Z and Millennials? Pick colors that work best in their marketing campaigns in your menu design.
  • Font psychology tells that people assume unsaid messages from font choices. So why not leverage this and use fonts to show the theme of your restaurant? For example, pick a soft script font for a bakery while a more rustic font for a steakhouse. 
  • Emphasize your theme by picking relevant images as the background or base image of your menu design. For example, if you are running a seafood restaurant, won’t the menu look great with a subtle nautical themed background? 
  • You can even design the menu’s shape to reinforce the theme. For example, a vegan restaurant’s menu can be in the shape of a leaf or a tree while one for a cafe can be in the shape of a mug. Get creative and you’ll see a bigger ROI. 

Kimp Tip: We live in the world of aesthetics and restaurants have to be instagrammable. By celebrating your restaurant’s brand and theme via menu design, you improve your chances of delighting customers looking for standout designs. So ditch the old boring menus and get innovative. 

Need a partner to go down the road less traveled? Try out a Kimp Graphics subscription!

6. Focus on the menu covers too

When we talk about menu design, it so happens that people instinctively think about the inner pages. But the covers of your menu are important elements of the menu design too. In fact, this is what the customer sees when they first come across the menu. While it may not hold a lot of importance online, it has a huge significance offline. Online too, it can be the thumbnail or cover image of your listing. 

Your restaurant menu’s cover must:

  • Carry the logo and branding of your restaurant prominently 
  • Be in a design style that goes well with the theme of the restaurant 
  • Include the details of your online presence 

When you are working with a design team for the restaurant menu design, ensure that you include the paper quality and specification for the cover. Since this is usually thicker and often laminated, the design considerations may vary and the designer must know this. 

Kimp Tip: Do not ignore the front or back cover. Make the most of these spaces with a few illustrations for a visual depiction of your brand story

Did you know that the Kimp Graphics unlimited design subscription includes illustrations and doodles? Book a call to find out more.

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Designed by Kimp

Create delicious restaurant menu designs with Kimp 

Do you want customers to talk about their experiences with you even after they have left your restaurant? Do you want to make an unforgettable impression on anyone who comes across your menu?

Well, in that case, it is time to invest in great restaurant menu designs. Customers like a visual treat and by showing them you care right from the menu design, you are locking them in with you for a long time. 

If you are worried about the costs of producing new restaurant menu designs, don’t be. Kimp Graphics offers unlimited graphic design services with unlimited design requests, revisions across a ton of categories including logo design, branding, and illustrations. So you’ll get way more than just one menu design for a flat fee!

And if you need video designs, we have the Kimp Video design subscription, waiting for you. 

Sign up for a free trial to test out the service for yourself.