The ongoing impacts of a branding makeover

Several months ago, much-loved Melbourne restaurant Mr Natural experienced a huge transformation. From entirely new branding, fresh wallpaper, vibrant new menus and supporting marketing materials, the transformation gave the long-established Mr Natural a fresh perspective and new clientele. Months later, they’re still enjoying the benefits.

Restaurant manager Jack Ali reveals the 33-year-old vegetarian pizza business in St Kilda, Melbourne, is still experiencing a rise in new customers, with the fresh look and feel of the shop’s exterior catching their eye on the street, and the bold wall menus making ordering a breeze. While he concedes the influx of newcomers isn’t quite as big as the initial surge following the redesign, he’s proud to admit they are still growing. He also believes there has been a huge 30 per cent increase in business year on year.

At the time, Ali was blown away by some of the bigger changes like the new custom wallpaper and bright shopfront signage, but after months of seeing the marketing materials hard at work, he shares that it’s a few items he didn’t anticipate that have ended up being his favourite additions to his business. For example, the sharp-looking custom pizza boxes and high-performing loyalty cards.

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The loyalty cards were printed and distributed to existing customers and newcomers and have delivered far more than Ali could have hoped. “Everyone uses them! People religiously have their cards and redeem them… I’ve got people on their second or third card.” The cards created an opportunity for customers to instantly become loyal to the business, and as Ali stressed back when the makeover first happened, it’s quality food that keeps them coming back.

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As he predicted back when the transformation took place, the new look wall menus and handouts have also performed strongly. “It’s well presented, it’s easy to pick what you want,” Ali explains. “Especially when a new customer comes in and sees the vibrancy and the freshness of the place.”

Mr Natural used the opportunity to kick off new ideas on the menu and make business changes they hadn’t done for years. Months later, they’re still continuing to use the fresh start as inspiration. Ali adds that over summer, Mr Natural developed a fresh new outdoor courtyard. “It’s really nice,” he says. “[The makeover] was an inspiration to do something while we had this chance.”

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Fresh printed menu handouts also allowed Ali to market to new customers. He explains that the St Kilda area in Melbourne has a high turnover of customers, thanks to a rent-heavy area and frequent backpackers. “We hadn’t done a letterbox drop [in years],” Ali admits, adding that by regularly reprinting fresh menus, they are now constantly generating new business. “Then you can get a constant flow of fresh new customers that are in the area.”

It took Mr Natural years to make changes to their look and feel, but now they’ve embraced a fresh and vibrant new chapter, there’s no stopping this energised business.

Maintain momentum in three easy steps

- Cast a “customer’s eye” over your front-facing materials, like handouts, menus and flyers. Jack Ali regularly updates menus as soon as they get dog-eared and tired, so the business always looks fresh.

- Know your clientele – Mr Natural is based in an area with a hugely transient customer base, which means constant targeting of customers who need to be introduced to the business.

- Don’t be afraid of change – Some of the biggest changes had the most striking effects for Mr Natural, a 33-year-old business that was a little nervous about changing their shopfront. Bold, fresh colours and clear messaging has consistently attracted new customers, even months down the track.