Bakers Journal

9 Menu Design Errors

October 20, 2016
By Diane Chiasson

Think of your menu as a marketing tool. It’s your first impression and can impact a customer’s perception of your business.

Great menu designs will enhance a bakery experience and help your customers makes the right choices. Your menu is often the first impression your bakery will make. Menus are your best marketing tools. They are an extension of your brand, and everything about presentation, design and layout and food/beverage descriptions will contribute to your guest experience and will increase your profit.

You should think of your menu as an advertising tool and as an opportunity to increase your profit. I have compiled a list of nine bakery menu design errors that I often see.

1. Bakery Brand Name Not Visible
Always place your bakery’s name and logo, address, telephone number and website at the very top of your menu and on the front and back of your menu. You want your guests to tell their family and friends about your bakery.

2. Bakery Products Placement
The average time a customer spends on a menu is just over 100 seconds, and therefore it is important that they see all your bakery items at once. Your menu should not be a list of ingredients. Proper menu engineering is not only to showcase your food and beverage items but it is also to create something interesting and unique in order to entice your customers. Many bakery operations don’t give much thought to where and how items are placed on the menu. Your most popular and profitable items, as well as your best signature desserts, should be at the top of your menu and at the top of each section. You should consider highlighting your most profitable items. Make sure that you have a minimum of one—but no more than two—highlighted  items on each page or panel.

3. Too Many Items
If you have too many items on your menu, you will only overwhelm your guests and they will have a difficult time choosing. In the end, it will only confuse them and they will be less likely to return to your bakery.

4. Descriptions Are Too Long
Describe each item properly. Use short, concise and accurate descriptions for each item. Your descriptions have to generate interest and sales. Long descriptions are confusing.
Effective typography will communicate your brand and result in a more legible menu. You want your type to look clean and consistent. As a general rule, try to stick to two different fonts to distinguish the names and descriptions of each menu item. DON’T CAPITALIZE everything, and if you have to – go bold.

5. Use Lines, Arrows and Boxes
Lines, arrows and boxes draw attention! Try to keep everything organized. Put lines and boxes around your eye-catching desserts with the highest profit margins.

6. Use Photos with Care
Let me tell you that greyish photos will not sell your bakery food items. You should always use extremely professional and high-resolution photos to show off your signature desserts. If you are planning to use stock images, make sure that they visually represent the exact same thing that you offer.

7. Don’t Emphasize $$ Dollar Signs
Don’t make your customers overly aware of how much they are spending. Studies have shown that customers are more likely to spend more when the dollar signs are omitted. You should display the price of each bakery item on your menu, but dollar sign overuse communicates that your bakery is just about money. Your bakery should reflect a tone of warm hospitality rather than business and commerce.

Incorporate your prices at the end of each menu item description, using the same size font and leaving two spaces between the end of the description and the price. Don’t list items from high price to low or vice versa. Try to mix them up.

8. Unkempt Menus
Don’t use menus covered with food, grease, water stains and tears. Your menu is a reflection of you, your bakery and your brand. If your menus are old and worn out, your bakery will appear to your guests as an old, dirty and sloppy establishment. Order menus that are durable, and determine whether paper or laminated menus would be more beneficial. Since a bakery operation is often a take-out operation and a sit-down café, then a mix of both paper and laminated menus is probably appropriate.

9. Failing to Proofread your Menu
Always read every word with careful attention, and ideally get another member of your team to check it too. Use a spellchecker to find misspelled words, but as you know, it will not catch correctly spelt words in the wrong context. Your menu is your most important sales tool, so make sure it’s professionally written.

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 30 years. Her company provides innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or, or visit

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