Burgers used to have an unsavoury reputation of being greasy, unhealthy and cheap – the sort of food you’d eat if you didn’t care about pumping your body full of chemicals and processed junk. Perceptions have changed however, thanks mostly to the rise of the American “better burger”. The UK has seen a boom in gourmet style burger restaurants offering a wide range of meaty related affairs, so far away from the greasy car park trailer you’ll think you’ve walked into an episode of The Naked Chef with Jamie himself. Burgers with every topping imaginable, cooked like a fine steak and served with skinny fries, sweet potato fries, triple cooked-sprinkled with fairy dust fries and all at perfectly reasonable prices. What used to be wholly synonymous with trendy hipster types in Brooklyn and Soho have now become the desired stomping grounds for a much wider audience wanting a piece of the proverbial brioche bun.

London has been doing gourmet burgers for a while now and as if a nod to its growing status as one of the best cities in the country, Leeds has joined the party with a huge influx of restaurants offering their own take on the humble burger. Some of London’s biggest players have moved out of the big smoke and into God’s own county with heavyweights Byron Burger and MEATliquor joining the likes of Leeds favourites Red’s True Barbecue, The Pit and Cattle Grid. These names however are simply the deep-fried pickles on top of the American cheese, inside the burger epicentre that Leeds has become.

Everywhere you turn there is a burger to be bought in a variety of guises and therein lies the problem. You may have the best burger in town, made with the best cut of beef and topped with award winning cheese from the Dales, but in such a saturated market is that enough? Lead designer of the Byron Burger brand, Ben Stott, told his copywriters not to include words like “fresh”, “authentic” and “good” as they are now a given, not a unique selling point. How then, do you take your great product and amplify it so your burger chain is the talk of the town?

Modern day consumers are infinitely more knowledgeable than before and as such demand more for their money than just a damn good burger. Burger brands need to provide consumers with a platform that leaves them feeling part of something special; something they’ll want to write glowingly about in 140 characters and post a perfectly edited square photo accompanied by the  hashtag “#burgercoma”. So what is it that brands need to offer customers in order to get them through the doors?

Unique Experience

With every brand claiming to offer the best food available, the dining experience as a whole needs to be unique and interesting to entice and maintain custom. One such brand that does this well is Red’s True Barbecue; a small chain of American style barbecue restaurants that originated in Leeds and has since opened in Manchester and again in Leeds. Alongside the usual affair of high quality, fresh ingredients cooked to perfection, Red’s is hugely successful for how cleverly it communicates itself to its audience. They take the rather unusual route of promoting their brand as a religion, claiming their restaurants are a place of worship and the menu as “the good book”. Couple this with an authentic, deep South styled design aesthetic and authentic barbecue style interiors, Red’s truly gives the customer an exciting experience that other burger joints simply cannot offer. Customers are included in the Red’s way of life by being invited into their “church”, given good food and an environment that feels authentic and welcoming – way beyond just eating a burger.

Tone of Voice

Once your burger brand knows who they are and what they stand for, it’s important you get the right customer’s bums on seats. MEATliquor is one such example of a brand that users the power of words and appearance to stay true to the brand’s origins. For a company that started in the back of a takeaway van, MEATliquor has experienced a meteoric rise to the very top of the gourmet burger biz and that is in part down to its cult like following of the chain. MEATliquor is a no nonsense, hardcore brand that champions sin, decadence and pure indulgence through their food and drink, all the way down to heavily tattooed bar staff and making people queue in the freezing cold for hours at a time. The MEATliquor brand speaks to the darker side of their consumers and makes them embrace breaking the rules and being rebellious. They’re off the cuff and unusual and people want to be a part of that – no Under-16s after 7pm says it all.

Killer Branding

So you’ve got the best food, the best eating experience and the right tone of voice nailed, but what’s next? You need a brand and a visual identity that resonates with your customers to help get them onside. Byron Burger founder Tom Byng started up the hamburger franchise to provide people in the UK with the sorts of burgers you would expect to find at the best eateries in New York. With 36 locations in London alone and a further 12 elsewhere in the UK, Byron are currently riding the wave of burger popularity and it’s not just down to their great menu. Their brand identity is certainly unconventional in that there isn’t a clear system; there’s no consistent logo, colour or typeface – no two restaurants are designed the same. Trendy typographic lockups, with hand written scripts to 3D signage set in Eurostile Bold adorn the windows and interiors, exposed brick work walls with vintage paintings and custom beer mats advertising Byron’s own brand of craft ales all help to build up a quirky brand that may appear to be disjointed and messy, but actually hints at quality, craftsmanship and humanity.

And there you have it, the perfect recipe for success when trying to stand out in such an overcrowded market like the burger scene. Nail your dining experience, speak to the right people and get your visual identity right. So if you’ve been inspired by all this burger chat and are thinking of adding to the already great burger scene, then get in touch – we’d love to brand your buns.

Reds-01 MEATliquor Byron