A new restaurant opened up near my house so I decided to go and check it out. The outdoor signage was really bad. The name of the restaurant was a mashup of the two owners names. Which of course meant nothing to a prospect searching for a restaurant. It was done with hard-to-read black font on a white background. To me the signs essence said “dirty kitchen”.
I decided to give it a try, out of support for a new business. The food was decent and the owner was very nice making sure everyone who left enjoyed their meal.
Every time I drove by that place it was empty.
I went back only this time I told him that he may have better luck if he changes his sign. The sign wasn’t inviting and it also wasn’t clear what type of food they served.
I asked him if he would meet someone I knew that’s good at design and he agreed.
The guy I was sending was an older guy named Paul that used to create sets for the David Letterman show. He’d also help re-brand companies like the car rental company Budget.
The next day I brought Paul for lunch to meet the owner.
In preparation for the meeting Paul had driven by the restaurant in all directions the night before. He wanted to see how far he could notice the signage and how it compared to the other restaurants lighting at night. HE even wore sunglasses to compare.
We set down all three of us and Paul talked with the owner about the need to market a specific type of food instead of the brothers names so that when someone is hungry for in this case chicken, they will automatically think of his restaurant. He showed a sketch of the new sign that blew me away.
On his drive around Paul noticed that if you drove in front of the restaurant east to west you couldn’t see the sign until it was too late. He suggested changing the shape of the sign and using the roof to expand visibility by 4x. He explained the flaws in the customer experience from the perspective of a woman to installing an awning for the days when it rains. It was one of the most beautiful and well thought out plans I had ever seen.
The next time I went to eat there. I asked the owner what he thought of Paul’s ideas. He said he wanted to continue with what he was doing. That he wasn’t ready to change.
3 months later they where out of business.
The next stage of a business starts when the owner realizes that the business can’t continue to run the same way it has been. That in order for it to survive it’s going to have to change. Some learn and grow while others close the doors.
Also published on Medium.