How to Boost the Visual Appeal of Your Food and Beverage Outlet

Gaining appeal and setting the mood of food and beverage outlets means engaging the customers eye with purposeful visual cues from ambient lighting to consistent and bold branding 

Last week, we discussed the importance of overall shop design and how to improve small-space efficiency without lacking on creating a customer-friendly environment. This approach supports a high turnover of customers and maximises sales through well planned demarcation and ergonomic counter spaces. Now we want to explore the use of lighting techniques and graphic design in hospitality and how these harmonise with a food and beverage outlet’s offering to complete the look and feel of the place. 


It’s very easy to understand the importance of lighting when you consider it in your head. Think of a shop that looks dim inside, saturated by blue light and little to no hierarchy in lighting levels. Your eyes are drawn to nothing specific and you’re likely to feel cold and unwelcome making you ultimately decide to not go in and spend your food dollars there.

Lighting creates the ambience and ambience sets the mood. Through clever lighting techniques visual merchandising can be highlighted to draw the customers eye or a moody atmosphere can be set for outlets who trade into the evening. Get the lighting wrong and the environment can be completely broken so it is an important, yet often neglected aspect of outlet design. 

Future Food implements a list of lighting priorities whenever a tenancy review is completed which include: 

1. Focus lighting on the food - food is the focus and the customer’s eye should be drawn to it

2. The food on display, followed by menu boards should receive highest level of illumination 

3. Accentuate the appearance of wall finishes, highlighting textures, patterns and ceiling treatments 

4. Integrate lighting into joinery such as hidden LED strips to illuminate counter tops 

5. Mitigate glare, veiling reflections and spill light through the luminaire locations 

6. Create a visual hierarchy of lighting levels that differentiates various elements within the tenancy. This will drag the eyes of customer to the important factors of your outlet. 

400 lux on the counter 

800 lux inside food display cabinets 

200 lux on seating areas with the ability to incorporate dimmers for mood lighting 

1200 lux to signage

Menu lighting by  Barn Light Electric  - Tinello, Seattle 

Menu lighting by Barn Light Electric - Tinello, Seattle 

Graphics and Branding

Good store design should always be complimented by smart and tasteful graphic design and the two are more inseparable today than they have been before. When an outlet is creating a brand it is important to consider clear (yet memorable) uniforms, menu boards, store design and packaging ensuring reinforcement of quality but more importantly brand recall and emotional connection from the customer. This is crucial to the success and longevity of a food and beverage brand. Considerations to core menu communication, individual product ticketing, specials and promotion cycles are often an afterthought, but should be part of the concept strategy to increase sales, and need to be incorporated in the design and branding development phase of the project to be effective. 

The most important thing to know when you’re deciding on the direction of your branding and graphic design is who your customer is and what they should know about you to choose you as their outlet of choice. This means you need to define your target audience as well as you’re core values and unique selling point (USP).  If you’re trying to appeal to everyone, you’re likely to miss the mark when it comes to creating a strong brand identity through graphic design. 

Design makes up a major part of the food and beverage category’s success and is one of the key players in developing a point-of-difference in a highly competitive environment. Future Food has defined four key considerations that have been learnt and refined over our years of professional experience which include

1. Balancing front-of-house with back-of-house to create an efficient yet appealing space

2. Smart and integrated design of the counter and point-of-sale zones that do not detract from the customer experience  

3. Tactful lighting that is understated yet impactful to create the mood and emphasise the food and beverage offer

4. Graphics and branding that harmonise with the theme and cuisine of the food and beverage outlet

For assistance in creating harmony between your food concept and the design, please contact one of our experienced consultants to discuss options and services which could assist you or visit our masterplanning services page to read more. 


Credits: Cover image via Yellow Trace of Bill's Bondi Lighting Image via Coco Kelley BlogRuss and Daughters Branding Images via Kellie Anderson