How can brands create unique drinking venues that keep customers coming back?

I recently returned to the UK after spending a few sunny weeks in Australia visiting my family there – and surprisingly, it refreshed my entire perspective on what makes a good drinking venue. 

Homogenisation of the market can seem overwhelming, but often taking a step back and looking at the unique characteristics of venues and what draws customers through the door can refocus your attention on what matters. 

The opportunity to experience a culturally different market from my usual haunts reminded me about what makes a bar or pub unique and worth visiting – regardless of where you are in the world.


What do customers look for in a bar, pub or venue?

Having a go-to, run-of-the-mill place to hang out with friends and family brings us a sort of comfort and ease of decision-making. We know what to expect – we know we can get a drink we like, the music’s generic enough to suit everyone, and we know we can usually get in without booking a table.

But there’s something exciting about unique experiences and individual characteristics when choosing a bar, pub or venue. Is there a decorative talking point? Is there an interesting history behind the building? Does it serve cocktail concoctions you won’t find anywhere else? What are the distinctive assets that set them apart?

On my recent trip to Australia, I visited The Friend in Hand in Sydney – a pub I first visited 13 years ago! It’s a venue I always go back to whenever I get the chance to travel to Oz, and whilst the pub has changed hands over the years, and the decor has had a few updates – one quirk has remained.

George the resident cockatoo. She’s lived in the pub for over a decade and is the venue’s top punter. She still looks as majestic as ever sitting atop the bar, and moves as quick as a flash when a plate of chips emerges from the kitchen. 

George is the ultimate distinctive brand asset. In the pub was a mix of regulars and first-timers, but all of them without saying it, were excited to see George – and she’s a big reason why I keep going back to the place.


What can venues do to stand out and keep customers coming back? 


Now, not all pubs need a resident cockatoo at the bar to attract customers, but it highlights what brands can do to create memorable experiences and encourage people through the door.

Independent venues obviously do distinctive assets well. The White Horse in Parsons Green, or Sloany Pony as it’s known colloquially, offers Pilsner Urquell tank beer, and Whitelock’s Ale House which is the oldest public house in Leeds has a stunning brass bar taking centre stage.

Some chain venues have unique draws too. Take the “long bar” at Slug & Lettuce, or the jaw-dropping cocktails at The Alchemist. Even the funky carpets that make every Wetherspoons across the UK identifiable (it’s true, there’s even a book to prove it!).

A unique brand asset can really be anything, as long as it feels authentic and presents something other bars, pubs or venues might not have. A reason for people to visit, a talking point customers can tell their friends and family about, and something that keeps them coming back.

Lots of these unique brand assets are things that live in the memory of customers and drive consumer behaviour. So, how can brands be creative and give customers a unique experience that creates a lasting memory? I’m not saying you need a chip-stealing cockatoo (but if you’ve got one it helps!).


Get in touch with Trinity McQueen to understand how you can elevate your brand and drive consumer behaviour using distinctive brand assets.