Put the pizza down: while this iconic baked good may be the OG of delivery that’s not to say it doesn’t face increasingly tasty competition. Here we explore food delivery branding examples worthy of marketing Michelin stars, including innovative and eco friendly packaging, personalized dining experiences and unwrapped chopsticks. Now, let’s dig in.

Illustration of woman surrounded by food delivery packaging
Delivery food comes in all shapes and sizes, which makes delivery branding and design all the more important. Illustration by OrangeCrush

The rise of food delivery branding

Sure, we all love a home-cooked meal, but the time-saving nature of food delivery makes it a popular choice for busy parents, overcommitted professionals and those of us who simply just don’t feel like cooking dinner tonight. Convenience, efficiency and an obscene level of tastiness have caused food delivery services to thrive as a global industry.

When apps like GrubHub and Uber Eats rolled into our lives, it became easier than ever to order food to your doorstep. Restaurants that previously didn’t deliver were gifted with the ability to do so without having to actually hire drivers. But this was before 2020. Suddenly, nobody could go out to eat and indoor dining was a fantasy. For countless restaurants, takeout became a means of survival and the importance of great delivery branding skyrocketed.

Building a great brand: it’s a piece of cake

Before you can implement creative food delivery branding, you need to develop your brand identity. Who are you as a company? What makes you unique? And, most importantly, who’s eating your food? Understanding your mission, purpose and customers will result in the ability to develop a killer brand.

Remember: brand consistency keeps your brand recognizable and reliable. Consistency will come into play as you develop your color palette, logo and packaging. When it comes to delivery branding, you’ve got to think on the move. Your logo has to look great on inner packaging, on waterproof outer packaging, a takeout menu, a delivery car, perhaps even uniforms. With an established brand identity and a sense of brand consistency, you’ll be well equipped to offer a food delivery brand which connects with customers in the most personalized setting: their home.

To-go pizza logo and packaging
To-go pizza logo and packaging by kreatank
To-go sushi logo
To-go sushi logo by vaneltia
To-go pizza logo and packaging
To-go pizza logo and packaging by M3LLS
To-go pizza logo and packaging
To-go pizza logo and packaging by Maneka
Greek restaurant menu
Greek restaurant menu by Caracara
Sushi menu
Sushi menu by E.C. Witts

Bring home the bacon: connect with your customers and make it personal

Let’s think about the inherent nature of takeaway branding: you’re creating a brand which exists in the wild, then enters the home of the consumer. Food itself has a natural way of fostering connection and community. It has so much power in creating positive memories and bonding people together; be that over a date, a family meal or a night in with your favorite soapstars. But if your delivery branding doesn’t hit the spot, your edible product means that this will be something audiences won’t forget. Ensure your branding leaves a good taste with the following steps.

Be courteous

When it comes to takeout food, sustainability isn’t simply the right thing to do—it’s the nice thing, too. With each carryout order, you’re entering the customers’ homes. By reducing waste and unnecessary items, you can add an element of courtesy to the experience.

The two most wasteful elements of food delivery are the bag and the utensils. Eliminating the bag is easy, as it is truly not necessary to add an additional container when the food is already contained. Instead, opt for to-go containers with built-in handles, which will make the cleanup process easier and less wasteful. By ditching bags, it shows that your brand cares not only about the environment, but about the customer.

Packages with built-in handles
Packages with built-in handles via Remmert Dekker
Dardenia waste-reducing to-go packages
Dardenia waste-reducing to-go packages by Ypsilon Tasarim via Behance

When it comes to carryout packaging, utensils cause a great deal of excess waste. Often, we see pre-packaged sets with 3 utensils and a napkin. The packaging adds additional plastic, plus, the customer often doesn’t need all 3 utensils.

Instead, opt for waste-reducing packages which are designed to hold utensils. This reduces the presence of excess plastic and also helps cut back on utensils which may not be needed. For example, if a customer orders soup, they’ll be happy with only one utensil, and they’ll thank you for cutting back on unnecessary items.

Be innovative

Food delivery packaging gives your brand the opportunity to get creative while also making a statement about who you are and what you stand for. Let’s say you’re a burger joint that thrives on letting customers build their own creations. This experience can easily translate into packaging by creating clear dividers and sections for the burger ingredients, all in the company’s striking color palette, of course.

To-go burger packaging
To-go burger packaging by Anturium

Saving space is an efficient way to show that your brand is ahead of the game. Space-saving initiatives make it easier for your employees to package and transport the delivery containers and you’ll also take up less space on your customers’ tables. Aim for takeout containers, which utilize vertical space and allow you to stack multiple dishes.

Stackable takeout packaging
Stackable takeout packaging via yankodesign.com

For a meal that requires chopsticks, why not put them on display? It makes them easier to access and turns the takeout packaging into a little work of art. Plus, nobody likes pulling wooden chopsticks apart. Nobody.

Packaging with utensil storage
Packaging with utensil storage via jayce-o.blogspot.com
Sushi packaging with chopstick storage
Sushi packaging with chopstick storage via trendhunter.com
New York bagels from Goldbelly
New York bagels from Goldbelly via popsugar.com

Be connected

Food brings people together, fostering a deep connection in the process. Just because a customer orders takeout and isn’t sitting down in your restaurant doesn’t mean that you can’t make a personalized connection.

Look at the success of Goldbelly. Their e-commerce site revitalized the restaurant industry by giving foodies the opportunity to enjoy their favorite restaurants from afar, even during the pandemic. Nostalgic customers get the chance to enjoy their favorite food from home, and adventurous eaters can find opportunities to try new cuisine.

Keeping up with appearances is an effective way to connect with your customer from afar. We live in a world where posting a like-worthy plate to Instagram is just as important as consuming the food. So when you’re packaging takeout food, take the time to make it pretty. Appearance is still incredibly important, even if the customer is the one plating the dish at the end.

Transferring food from containers to plates
Transferring food from containers to plates via grubhub.com

Another way to connect with the customer and share your brand identity is through fun and interactive packaging. Many restaurants only explore this option for kids’ meals, but you can take it to the next level by offering packaging which also satisfies one’s inner child. Go for playful shapes and designs like oven-inspired packaging for to-go cupcakes, or options which give the customer a creative, hands-on experience. Who doesn’t love stickers?

Cupcake oven packaging
Cupcake oven packaging via etsy.com
Born2Be interactive packaging
Born2Be interactive packaging via trendhunter.com

Give ‘em the whole enchilada: go the extra mile with creativity and customization

Great delivery branding isn’t just about connecting with the customer: it’s about doing it in your own distinct way. Think about how you can customize your takeout menu to reflect the reasons that guests may visit your restaurant, and offer special deals for different occasions like birthdays, date nights or family meals. Bundles will make your brand feel relatable and more personalized.

When planning out your bundle offer, think about how you can compete with popular meal kits like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron. By offering your own version, it offers a blend of desirable convenience with the fun of DIY. Many popular restaurants, including Dickey’s Barbecue Pit and Moe’s, have jumped on the meal kit bandwagon. Take the meal kit as an opportunity to bring your brand to life through eye-catching colors and clever messaging.

Dickey’s Barbeque big yellow box
Dickey’s Barbecue big yellow box via foodservicedirector.com
Moe’s meal kit
Moe’s meal kit via foodservicedirector.com

To-go branding offers an opportunity to put yourself in the customer’s shoes, identify their needs and cater directly to them. Even McDonalds recently jumped on the creativity bandwagon with their McBike to-go packaging. The compact containers are specially constructed to fit on the handle of a bike, catering to their carryout customers who opt for two wheels, not four.

McDonalds McBike packaging
McDonalds McBike packaging via bizongo.com

Additionally, think about how you can elevate the in-home takeout experience and ultimately enhance your brand in the process. Many places permit to-go cocktails with a food order, and customers will embrace this rare opportunity to enjoy an adult Capri Sun, like the cocktail pouches below. Be thoughtful with the packaging of your drinks or snacks and use this as an opportunity to engage with the customer.

To-go cocktail packaging
To-go cocktail packaging via bizbash.com
To-go cocktail packaging
To-go cocktail packaging via stlmag.com

Craving some great delivery branding? Dig in!

By mastering the bread and butter of brand building and connecting with customers in an intimate way, you can take an elevated, innovative approach to food delivery branding. This is your opportunity to create an experience which immerses the customer in your brand, even if they aren’t sitting down in your restaurant. Smart, interactive approaches will result in the ultimate goal: loyal customers who come back for seconds and thirds.

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