Top 10 tips to design a winning menu

Top 10 tips to design a winning menu

Do not underestimate the power of a food or drink menu. Maybe a book cannot be judged by its cover, but it’s the complete opposite for a menu.

A menu is a representation of your establishment, its history, its personality. Are you formal, classy, sophisticated? Are you fun, wild, alternative? Are you a Mexican, French or Italian restaurant? Once you have decided on the personality of your establishment, the whole theme must be carried onto your menu.

Your menu will convey your brand and should make such an impact that it will influence the mood of your clients, whether they will come back and whether they will tell their friends about it.

An increasing appetite for food

Over the last decade, we have become obsessed with food. Chefs have turned into TV celebrities, shows such as Masterchef, Great British Bake Off and Hell’s kitchen are not showing any dip in popularity and recipe websites are attracting millions of visitors (BBC food, All Recipes…).

Millennials (‘Gen-Y’) have been dubbed the ‘foodie generation.’ They engage and connect with their food; whether it’s going to a new gourmet restaurant or seeking out information on ingredients. This generation craves experiences and with an increase in social media platforms, they are strong influencers and fierce critics, never hesitating to share their good and bad experiences with the World.

But developing, or should we say engineering, the perfect dishes and dining experience, is useless if you neglect the menu.

The menu is the most important internal sales and marketing tool an establishment has to market its food and beverages. Indeed, it is the only piece of print that virtually every client will read. It determines what they order and how much they spend. It’s therefore important to work hard on the design of your menu.

How to design a great menu? Our top 10 tips…

1. Commit yourself to your menu
The design of your menu must be taken very seriously. Work closely with your graphic designer and printer to achieve the perfect menu and accentuate the menu items you want to feature.

2. Make sure it’s readable
Watch out for font sizes and styles, paper colour, text colour etc… Remember your menu must be easy to read even in a low-light environment. Always avoid crowded menu items with small fonts, it will put off your customers.

3. Use menu psychology
Just like retail use POS and merchandising techniques, menu psychology is the art of pushing the items you want to sell by highlighting your most profitable products using graphics, font, colour and illustrations.

4. Maximise the use of space
Use the front and back cover to add information about your establishment – opening hours, address, contact details, website address, social media information, history…

5. Keep it in line with your branding and personality
The design of your menu must follow the décor and personality of your establishment in such a way that, if someone who had never been to your place was given a menu, they could visualise the décor, atmosphere, type of food and overall ambiance.

6. Size matters
The size of your menu must suit the size of the table. For example, an oversized menu can be highly impractical, as it can be difficult to handle whilst holding a drink, talking to your friend and avoiding knocking over candles and condiments.

7. Keep it short
Most customers spend on average 109 seconds reading a menu. It has been shown that around 65% of sales comes from around 20 menu items. It therefore does not make sense to have 50+ items. Furthermore, customers will take longer to read and order from a long menu impacting greatly on your turnaround time.

8. Use ‘eye magnets’
People tend to scan the menu following an ‘eye movement pattern’ (see below), usually, from centre to top right, then top left, bottom left, back to top right, bottom right and back to the centre. The use of ‘eye magnets’ can help direct the gaze of the reader to a particular section. Eye magnets are graphic techniques such as boxes, larger or bolder font, image etc..

9. Include meaningful and accurate descriptions
Customers can have expectations of food before even eating it which can have a direct effect on whether they enjoy the dish. Use effective descriptive language to help shape perceptions before they order. This can include the place of origin, type of breed, sourcing method, spiciness, what wine goes with what dish etc.

10. Don’t forget the obvious
Proof-read thoroughly your menu. Typos and grammar mistakes are a big no-no. You are selling desserts not deserts! Also, avoid clip-art and do invest in photography. You don’t want to be using non-appetising or mis-representing pictures of your food. There is nothing worse than getting a starter that looks nothing like it did on the menu.

At Hague, we are highly experienced in designing and printing restaurants, bars and pub menus. Last year alone, we printed 160,000 menus. We have a team of highly trained designers who can advise you and help you create the perfect menu.

Contact us now for a no-obligation chat with our hospitality team.