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Defining Your Bar Scene: A Guide to Understanding and Using Your Unique Bar Culture

Your bar scene or bar culture Is how people think about your bar, what they experience there, and how that combines in their minds to create a simple, effective label for what your bar is. It’s how they describe your bar to friends who have never seen it. It’s what people want when they head out to visit your bar.

There are many types of bar culture – sports, dive, wine, lounge, whiskey, cigar, family-friendly, rustic, industrial, party/nightclub, music and much more. Maybe you already have a clear idea of what your bar scene looks like. Maybe you are still trying to discover it. Either way, it’s important to tap into the power of your bar culture and use it to supercharge your brand. Our guide will help you make that possible!

Define Your Target Market, And See What’s Popular

If you aren’t yet sure what your bar should be known for, start with your target market. Who do you want to be your audience? Find that target audience, try to create some buyer personas to better understand them, and watch what they’re doing on social media and around town. Look at what activities and meals get a lot of engagement – monitor the buzz, in other words. Use this information to think about what makes your bar special and buzzworthy. If you aren’t sure how to do this effectively, check out our Digital Marketing Services page!

Chances are good that, along the way, you will also find people posting about your bar specifically. If you aren’t already monitoring these posts, now is the time to start! See how people describe your bar and what they are discussing. Which brings us to our second point…

Watch What Your Trendsetters Are Doing

Many bars encounter trendsetters, influencers with a built-In audience who are experts at finding what they like and sharing those likes with other people. This is a very organic process, but it’s also a great way to find out what your bar has become known for. Watch for the people who bring in large groups of friends with them to try your bar. See what they suggest, what they buy, how they eat or drink. Watch what they snap pictures of. Listen to where they are going or coming from. These are the people helping you create your bar scene, and the more you understand them, the more you will understand what your bar stands for.

Obviously, if trendsetters appear to be picking up on a vibe that is not part of your brand goal, then it’s time to make some changes in how you market and present your bar. But trendsetters can also help you pinpoint what makes your bar special. That’s why they’re worth some in-person study.

If your bar isn’t quite open yet, you have a valuable opportunity to pay attention to the first few weeks and what customers immediately respond to. Use these responses to craft marketing content going forward!

Don’t Pick a “Theme,” Pick a Thing

When trying to find or hone your bar culture, it may be tempting to settle on a major them. It’s really easy to think in themes, and you may feel comfortable describing your bar culture as a certain theme. Themes can make decorating easy, but they aren’t as helpful when it comes to marketing: Themes are a little nebulous, and too easily lost in the crowd of other restaurants and bars around the world with similar themes. You, on the other hand, want to stand out.

So instead of a theme, pick a thing. Pick one thing that you are sure your bar does best, one thing that you are particularly proud, one thing that will always make you stand out no matter how many competitors come along. It could be a type of entertainment, a special drink, a singular decoration, or anything else! Focus your marketing efforts on this one thing while establishing your bar culture. This will also make it easier for newcomers to define your bar in their minds and associate it properly on social media.

Use Keywords and Descriptive Language in Your Online Profiles

All right, let’s say you have a good idea of what your bar culture is/needs to be. Perhaps you’ve find that ideal something that you’re particularly proud of, or perhaps you’ve always known your niche, like, “We’re going to be the best fine whiskey bar in the city.”

Either way, it’s important to use those labels in your online profiles. All competent bar brands should have profiles on Google my Business, Facebook Business Pages, and similar locations. The profiles that you create – the descriptions of your business – on these platforms are important for SEO, and one of the first things that people will see when taking a look at your bar online. Make sure you clearly state your bar culture here! Offer a clear description of the scene that people can expect and why it’s worth their time. This is not the time to be vague: If your bar scene is all about avant garde blues music, you need to say it. Thrown in some keywords relating to blues music while you are at it. It doesn’t need to be the only thing you say about your bar, but it should be at the top.

These profiles all include image options too, so make sure you upload several high-quality photos that easily show what your bar culture is all about.

Schedule Events to Emphasize Your Bar Culture

A little bit of thought (or a quick Google search) will yield a long list of potential bar activities. These activities are a great idea as long as you can manage them properly, and a very powerful marketing tool. But you should make a long-term effort to focus on the types of events that back up the sort of scene you have in mind. Music bars – well, that’s an easy one. Sports bars have the big games of course, but they can also do bar olympics and trivia nights. Bars with a strong local identity can do specials for teachers and nurses, family-friendly nights, singles nights, and so on. Even the simplest, dive-oriented bars have plenty of options like poker nights, or displaying local artwork. Use social media tricks to help capture these special moments with your patrons and always try to create your event calendar as a way to further define your culture.

Make Your Space Stand Out

Does your space reflect what you want your bar to be about? A key part of your brand is how your bar looks and feels. Make sure it reflects your intended bar culture. The more unique your décor and materials, the more impact your space will have, so don’t try to copy what other bars have done in the past.

It’s also important to remember that defining your space goes far beyond picking out decorations, glasses and bar stools. Your culture is also defined by how you serve food, how guests clean up after themselves (or not), what local ingredients you use, what eco-friendly materials you use, and much more. Build your bar scene from the details on up!

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