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3 Inspiring Restaurants Who Used Restaurant Music to Build Their Brand

Posted by Chrissy Ockerbloom on 2/6/16 8:00 AM in Restaurant Marketing

4 minute read Print

restaurant music

Music is a powerful tool. It can help you build your brand, spark social change, and bring people together.

Everyone has a moment in their lives that was largely shaped by a particular song or music event and some restaurants have begun to try to spark new, positive moments through the music in their restaurants.

You have probably seen music being used as a marketing tool in many different industries. For example, Budweiser sponsors multiple concerts across the United States, including a major partnership with Jay Z to produce the ‘Made in America’ events which were wildly popular in Philadelphia. Lyft partnered with Justin Bieber to offer discounted album prices and increase rides. The list goes on.

But what about the restaurant industry? It’s an industry where success is predicated on a finely tuned combination of many different things. From food quality to service to atmosphere, the right mix can make a huge difference. When you think about which levers to pull to attract guests, it’s important to take a look at your local demographic. Are most of your customers millennials? You might want to pull the music leve,  as data shows that millennials are responding better to marketing through music, spending more money on music-related activities, and sharing music-related content on social media more often.

But, don’t take it from me. Take it from these three restaurant brands who are using restaurant music to differentiate themselves in the market. 

Tin Drum Cafe - Atlanta

tindrumSteven Chan, the owner of fast casual concept and Asian street food eatery Tin Drum Cafe, was originally inspired by the atmosphere and taste of the street food in Hong Kong. Featuring bustling streets, excitement, and the sounds of a large drum, he wanted to bring the vibe of Hong Kong to America. When he began, his focus was on the atmosphere of the restaurant, the decor, and of course, the music. What does Tin Drum Cafe want out of its restaurant music?

In an article for Restaurant News, Steven Chan said, “It’s a very calculated approach. But the precision doesn’t eliminate the passion of the music. In fact, it enhances it.”

Chan chooses songs based on tempo instead of based on popularity. The sweet spot is 120 beats per minute, a tempo that emulates the excitement of the streets he grew up eating on in Hong Kong. Of course, a strong signal of dinner time in Hong Kong is the sound of the tin drummer calling residents out to the streets to eat, a sound which is now heard throughout their 12+ stores in the southeast.

Ben and Jerry’s - Vermont

ben & jerry'sBen and Jerry’s is an ice cream shop headquartered in Burlington, Vermont with stores nationally and globally. They are known for their unique flavors, employee wellness, and their affiliation with music. It all started in the 1980’s when they named a flavor after Grateful Dead legend, Jerry Garcia (Cherry Garcia). Seeing the opportunity to be able to influence their brand perception through music, they began sponsoring festivals locally. Once they realized the impact of sponsoring, they decided to create their own festival which, according to the brand, “brought people together in the name of music, arts, crafts and social action.”

For the next 20+ years, music continued to be at the forefront of their brand marketing. Whether they were immortalizing certain artists by naming pints after them, using artist backing to spark social change, or becoming involved with larger music events, Ben and Jerry’s has made a promise to maintain their relationship with music.

Johnny Rockets - LA

Johnny RocketsJohnny Rockets, a popular chain restaurant built around classic Americana, supplements their brand position with music iconic to the era of America that they are so well known for. For Johnny Rockets, it’s the guest experience that really sets them apart. When you eat at a Johnny Rockets, you can expect iconic music and an environment where your servers are dancing and smiling. Their locations are reminiscent of a time where throwing a few cents into the jukebox was a new and exciting phenomenon for customers.

Now, many Johnny Rockets locations use Rockbot, a music for business solution, which allows them to customize their own vibe and build a playlist of songs that fits with their uplifting, positive brand image. Not only that, but it acts as a modern day jukebox with customers able to choose songs from a pre-set library. This allows them to stay true to the pillars their brand was built on, while providing a modern touch.

How to Use Music to Build Your Restaurant Brand

For restaurants that are using music, one thing is clear, it is a versatile tool. It can be a strong supplement to the brand experience you are trying to create, spark social change among your customers, and form a deeper connection between staff and guests. If you are thinking about bringing music out of the background at your restaurant, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Make sure your music is licensed. 

It’s important to understand the licensing laws around playing music in a public setting so you can avoid penalties from artist protection organizations.

Audit your customer base. 

Do you have a lot of families with young children? Are they mostly millennials? Doing this will help you make sure your music is appropriate for the audience.

Get your employees involved.

Many restaurants have problems with employees plugging in their phones and playing their own music which can sometimes be inappropriate or off-brand and, not to mention, illegal. Get your employees bought-in to what you are trying to create with music and they will be much more likely to comply with the changes! They might even have valuable input.

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Written by: Chrissy Ockerbloom

Chrissy Ockerbloom is the marketing manager at music for business company, Rockbot. She most frequently writes about technology for the restaurant industry and of course, the role that music can play in a restaurant environment. Find her work on the Rockbot Blog! In her spare time you can find her sampling the local San Francisco fare or listening to live music.


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