An eager entrepreneur is passionate about food. He scrimps and saves with the dream of opening his own restaurant.
One day, the opportunity presents itself. He sinks all of his financial resources into the building, fit-up, and other start-up costs. His success hinges on the success of that restaurant. He has spared no expense to make it the best it can be.
Opening day approaches.
He cranks up Microsoft Word and makes the menu complete with typos and freakish justification.
While I’m on a rant about restaurant menus…
- If I’m eating something in a restaurant, then logically it CANNOT be “homemade” (unless you’re in trouble with the health dept). The word you’re looking for is “homestyle”.
- Do you sell salads? Most people eat salad dressing on those. How about a listing of your salad dressing choices?
- Own a restaurant? Have a website for it? Do you know why people come to a restaurant website? The menu. Why have you hidden it, strung it out on 8 different pages, and made it a 25MB PDF?
- Dear Fast Food Behemoth: How about listing what you have and the prices on the menu boards instead of blinky-flashy tv screens that change about the time I start reading them?
- And to the original point of this post – If you own a restaurant, please hire a graphic designer to design a menu that works. Proofread it. Pass it around to people who are not your friends to see if it makes sense to them. It’s amazing that the single most important marketing piece for a restaurant is so badly butchered by so many restaurateurs.
Paper still exists. This distresses the digerati, but it’s true.
There is an unfortunate instance between the digital and paper realms that drives me crazy.
Do me a favor. If you’re whipping up a paper form that asks for someone’s email address, use the entire width of the page just for that line.
There is no way someone with big clunky penmanship will be able to write firstname.lastname@example.org on a line that you’ve allotted the same space for a phone or a fax number.
Speaking of which, why are you still including a fax line on that form?
I led a daylong training for the Executive Directors of the American Advertising Federation back in 2008 at the AAF National Conference in Atlanta. This was their imaging for the conference:
Flashforward to the present where the Wired Business Conference is happening today.
Maybe they’ll talk about unique and fresh design.
You see, it’s funny because it’s true. I’ve never designed a stop sign, but I have been in discussions that were frighteningly like these.
Let me first say that I have made many mistakes. A few have been made in life and many more have been made in my marketing efforts. I have approved print jobs with both minor and egregious errors. I have designed and sent ads to a publisher with misspellings. And this blog has been known to have more than the occasional typo. (Although, a copy editor friend is now reading the blog so I’m more careful than I used to be.)
As you go through the day, more than likely you’ll see a few mistakes in marketing pieces. Most of them come through hastily written signage, employees not using common sense, or the dangerous combination of minimum wage and brand messages. I’ve even provided photographic evidence of poor proofs here before. In fact, the problem has gotten so bad that we’ve come to the point that you get a write up in the New York Times because you know how to use punctuation on a sign.
It’s easy to find these singular errors. But occasionally, you’ll find an example where they just backed the dump truck up and let it all go. There’s a new restaurant in my hometown that has been publishing its menu in the local paper for the past few days. And it’s bad.
My wife is an adjunct college English professor and she took it to her night class. The students found copious amounts of misspellings, punctuation errors, and things that just made no sense. Here’s the ad, but because of the poor design and small type, you really can’t read it. But while trying to find an online copy of the menu to show you, I did find that the restaurant has already become a local laughingstock because of others who have noted the horrible job on the ad and menu.
This is not nitpicking. This is being in control of your marketing. There’s no reason for it. Shame on the newspaper and salesperson for letting such a horrible thing be published on behalf of a client. Shame on the graphic designer who didn’t proof the work. And shame on the owners for not taking responsibility for their own marketing and image.
If a company is not going to take the time and effort to properly craft the marketing messages that they’re paying for, how bad are the other aspects of the marketing experience I’m going to have with the company going to be? As you can see in the laughingstock link, shoddy craftsmanship in preparing a menu spills over in the preparation and quality of the food on the menu as well.
Sometimes the product IS the logo. If you’re lucky enough to be caught in that position, don’t mess with it. But bureaucracy is not that smart.
In what is a sure fire example of the crap that can be produced by committee, New York has unveiled a logo for New York taxis.
Never mind that the logo is not needed. They went the extra step to make it hideous.
How can you use three typefaces in only seven characters?
Am I in Boston? Why is the Boston T symbol showing up in the middle?
And as one commenter on a New York Times blog wrote — “it looks like someone used a dime-store stencil.”
The sad part about the whole logo is that it probably started as a good one since the original ideas came from Smart Design, the same group that puts together the smooth designs of Oxo proucts. But, as Tim Manners posted on Reveries, — “Rather than settling on one idea, the committee decided to go with all of them.”
Several more problems are outlined in this New York Times blog post along with commentary and alternative designs from some smart designers.
Most of the people that DON’T have an eye for good design are also the same people that DO control advertising purse strings.