Menu Science Header graphic


At Eat With Your Eyes, we are experts in menu development, and working for well-known brands in the hospitality sector we have become accustomed to designing menus that excite and inspire. We’ve taken a menu we created for Belgo, who specialise in classic Belgian dishes and craft beer to highlight our top tips on what to consider when positioning a new menu or a menu rebrand…


Food menu sections


Navigation and clearly designed layouts is key if you want to sell dishes and make that money! There has been a lot of science behind heat-mapping menus to see where the person’s eye is naturally drawn to. However, we believe we can go much deeper into this. We have the ability to take your customer’s eye to where it needs to go. Designed well, your customer will be attracted to the areas of the menu that you particularly want to sell. In this instance, pulling out the Moules and Rotisserie on the food side of the menu was an essential key to the design layout. As you can see they’re not necessarily centred for them to be a success. It’s the typography, the use of illustration, the keylined boxes and so much more. This also goes for the Hop Tails and Schnapps Shots sections for the drinks. There is also another important element that goes beyond your ‘main spend dishes’. Adding comments such as ‘Leave room for dessert’ attracts one’s attention to adding more onto their bill.


Food menu size


Over the past few years, there’s been a soaring trend in larger A3 format menus. These contemporary sheets are the perfect way to display your contents due to the increasing spend space. As there is no front cover, the wasted space of this is diminished, therefore leaving you with more room to sell. There is also a lot to be said for the importance of navigation. Having smaller menus with folds can increase your chances of items being missed, for instance, many may feel the need to put the last course (desserts) on the back of the menu. This straight away has customers forgetting to even consider their choices of a dessert while they choose their other items. Sectionalising is key to making this style work. Just like you would on a folded menu, creating bold headlines and dividers will lead to the success of how your menu reads.


Food menu extras


Upselling is key to any business but how you do it can make a huge difference with how your customers perceive you. Doing a regular BOGOF or salesy type of offer can actually sometimes do damage across your other offerings, it’s also about how consumers will then use these to reflect your brand. Think of it as ‘value for money’. People are willing to pay for experiences, where credit is due. For some, choosing a regular establishment becomes an easy choice due to the familiarity and the ‘know what you’re in for’ scenario. So how do we nudge offers across the menu without being pushy? Pulling out sections and adding a bit of conversation like ‘Moules go great with beer’ are great ways of upselling your meals to an enhanced meal and drink. Making sure people don’t miss offers such as ‘Beer flights section on top of drinks side’ – your customer is now turning over revealing a whole array of new items to explore. An easy one is to highlight your ‘new’ dishes with a symbol or word. We have this urge to be the first to try things and buy things, so it’s only natural customers will be swayed towards these selections. So, can you see from the 3 examples above that none of these included a ‘sales’ price? Upselling goes so much further, and it’s about finding your niche dishes and familiar favourites to entice consumers to spend more.


Pictures on food menus


Creating attention grabbing illustrations holds a really important purpose. They go much further than the usual up-sells we have just mentioned above. They’re a supportive element and should be used to communicate offers in more detail, or give emphasis to sections you wish to highlight. But more importantly, they’re a fantastic way to add creativity to your menu. Designing illustrations should reflect your brand personality and help create a flow and add dynamism between all your texted sections. It’s not only illustrations that are at the forefront of the menu that create that brand story either. The tinted illustrations in this menu help give it flow and add authenticity and trust. It’s all about creating a synergy that reflects your brand vision.


Full range food menu option


Creating a narrative to share with your customers will help immerse your customers into the full experience of your brand. An easy way to do this is to create an opening story at the top of your menu. An introduction that excites and allows customers to understand who you are and what makes you different. Allow that person to really feel encouraged that they have made the right decision about choosing you for their meal out. It also gives you credibility, you’re proving to your customers you are invested in making this the best experience possible for your customer. With that comes trust, being transparent about your background allows customers to understand your menu choices and to ‘set the scene’ as such. Creating a story isn’t just through words either. As we all know illustrations can do so just as well. Adding illustration helps create a story with no words at all. Maybe there are just some things you cannot get into words. It’s all about creating a synergy between your brand’s characteristics to help that story develop.


Social Media on food menu


Utilising print to run smoothly into social need not be a challenge. Cross selling across platforms can have a hugely beneficial impact for your business. Not only does it increase spend but it also adds a real depth of interactivity. Having icons or QR codes that fit within the style of your menu can entice your customers to delve deeper into your menu. Use an Instagram platform to showcase your food. This not only can stay updated and on-trend with your current photography styles, it also means you can steer clear away from imagery within your menu. This allows for more space to highlight dishes, add conversational tones and also have a more seamless feel across your menu. This also is a great opportunity for customers and influencers alike to ‘share’ their foodie experiences! Social will only benefit you as it is the perfect platform to constantly talk to consumers about your brand and keep them front of mind when away from the restaurant doors. So when we are once again ready to eat out, you’re in their mind!


Pun names on food menu


Menus are so much more than just showcasing your dishes, you’re creating an experience where your customers can immerse themselves within your unique brand, and your menu is just one of the many places you should start the conversation. Create intrigue through headlines and pull outs. This not only should be fun and exciting for customers but again, use this as an opportunity to upsell and allow customers to fully embrace your menu. For instance, the menu above pulls out key drinks such as ‘Flying Start’ – these are wonderfully fascinating drinks that can really take your experience to a different level. Other ways of adding great tone is through language. Such words as ‘Classique’ and ‘Moules’ were used to emphasise the unique Belgian heritage of this menu. Adding humour can be elegantly done as well, it doesn’t have to be brash and trashy, when done right, it can add an element of familiarity to customers that they would enjoy. Phrases such as ‘Flip the menu to find salvation’ and ‘In hops we trust’ all bring it back to that brand recognition whilst adding a relaxed humour. It’s important to talk to your customer as a real conversation, make them feel welcome, what do you want them to know? After all, it’s not just about the food. People go out for an experience, no matter the establishment.


Food menu tips and deals


Building brand awareness from a creative identity will set you apart from your competitors. Creating a unique identity that becomes recognisable to you is paramount to how customers recognise you as a brand. And the menu should continue that consistency in its look and feel. Creating a design harmony using typefaces is a great place to start. You need not be restricted with a couple of typefaces from a ‘consistency’ brand guidelines point of view. Having a creative eye to harmonise typefaces can add a creative layer of intrigue using words, that of course are already working hard to help navigate customers around your menu. Adding colours also adds a layer of personality that can also become recognisable elements to your brand. Having your unique colour palette can catch people’s attention when used across social and on A-boards alike. Teaming all the above with uniquely created illustrations adds an extra element of design detail that again becomes personally recognisable to you. This menu here has wood block style prints to reflect the authenticity and heritage of the brand. Using modern day items such as beer flights and cocktails helps modernise it and bring it into a contemporary style that is on-trend.


Sustainable food menus


There’s no getting away from it, climate change is happening and consumers are more aware than ever about how the choices they make can impact the planet greatly. Having just plant-based options on the menu is not enough. Building trust in the customer is paramount to your success and this can easily be rectified by being transparent. One great conversation to have with your customers is about your provenance. Where does your meat come from, what about the fish, but also you can dive deeper – do you buy produce that have low carbon-footprint? If you do, SHOUT ABOUT IT! Let your customers know, be proud of your partnerships and producers. From a physical point of view, there is a lot you can do too. Printing on recycled papers and stocks have a huge advantage. Vegetarian / ocean friendly inks exist too. Another reason not to print imagery within your menu is the heavy ink usage. Get it online! This does come at a premium, but building trust with your customers will only build longer-term rewards.


We’ve mentioned it many times above, but creating that customer loyalty will only help your brand thrive. The combination of all the above and beyond builds the ultimate consistent unique experience that your customers will remember and tell people about. Spreading the word that your brand is the place to go. When designing your menu, you’re building on that awareness by creating a joyful experience that is seamlessly reflected in the environment that you are in. We consider these things as a whole when designing your menu. As cliché as it is, these are the ingredients you need to conjure up an absolute design delight that will attract customers and more importantly make you money! Everything you see should all be considered at once, it is a matter of allowing each area to influence one another, and to create that design harmony we have mentioned.

At Eat With Your Eyes – we strive to create brands with longevity, that adapt and progress as trends progress. We use research and science, to really understand the market and to know what customers of the hospitality industry strive for and crave. Our unique expertise in building hospitality brands has proven success stories throughout our client portfolio and we are proud to create brands that inspire and ignite that energy that so very much reflects our modern day society.

If you want to find out more about how we can help your brand, whether start up or established, we very much welcome a discussion, so do get in touch!


Bio: Lois Hillier – Senior Designer
at Eat With Your Eyes.
With 5 years experience in the Eat With Your Eyes studio, Lois is a well-established member of the team creating brands from concept to completion. Researching, creating insight and grasping up-to-date trends comes hand in hand with harnessing expertise in the field of the hospitality sector and everything food and drink.