Using images on your menus
By Kevin Moyse
At Cheap Takeaway Menus we take great pride in what we do. We are sure we know what makes a great takeaway menu. We work hard on our menu design and menu printing to bring you the highest quality products which will achieve the best results for your takeaway business. We are constantly thinking about new ways to serve our customers but we know just how much our core business matters and we never lose sight of that. Menu design is such an important part of the process of opening and running a takeaway, but unfortunately it is often the last thing to be considered. We don’t work that way.
If you’re choosing us to design and print your takeaway menus we will work on everything simultaneously, changing and tweaking versions and ideas until we have reached a point where you are happy that the menu represents exactly what your takeaway stands for, and we are happy that we have done all we can to ensure this. We will constantly consult you about what you are looking to achieve with your takeaway menu, and tailor our work to your answers. Or if menu design isn’t your strong point, you can trust our menu design team to come up with something which will do your takeaway justice.
A takeaway menu is a massively important aspect of your business, but it is a finite space. A lot of information needs to fit within its confines:
Logo, food images, special discounts, phone number/website address, special offers, opening times, delivery information, card payment information, address and full postcode, T’s and C’s/Disclaimers, headings, product names, product descriptions, prices, flavours and sizes, any extra discounts, allergy information.
With all of this information fighting for space, images can find themselves either ignored completely or jammed in unnecessarily. Images have a place on a menu, but only if they serve a purpose. Every other piece of information on your takeaway menu needs to be there. Images should be no exception.
For much more information on menu design see What is good menu design? and for an in depth look into logos then you should read What makes a good takeaway logo design? It may help you if you read the following articles: How to design a takeaway menu? and 10 Steps to a more profitable menu.
As far as images are concerned, we have put together some information which covers many of the questions we are often asked.
How many images?
A study once suggested that a customer spends an average of just 110 seconds looking at a menu. Less than two minutes! And that includes looking at the front cover and the essential details before they even get to the food itself (Where are you? Do you deliver? Is there a delivery charge? Can food be ordered online? What’s the telephone number?). With this in mind always be aware that the judicious use of images is always the preferred option. Throwing in image after image will undoubtedly clutter your menu and although you may be including the images to entice customers there is a good chance they will have the completely opposite effect.
You need to find a balance between adding all the information you need to add and having it look how it needs to look to stand out from the crowd. Finding this balance is one of the keys to a great menu. Effective takeaway menus are extremely simple or they can be a little more complex, but not all simple or complex menus are effective. A little planning goes a long way.
Our advice regarding images on menus is this: less is more.
Image size and quality
It stands to reason that a clear and appetising food image on the front of a takeaway menu can never be a bad thing. Some photographers make a career out of taking pictures of food on a plate. Think about how often you see pictures of food on any given day! The right picture can be as good a way of enticing customers to order as any other trick you might have up your sleeve. The advances in digital cameras mean that if you’re careful about it you can produce the perfect image yourself. An image of one of your own dishes cooked and presented by your own people would be impressive, so give it a go if you like. Choose the most attractive dish and present it well; place it in a good light and use a quality camera to take the best picture you can.
Stock images are also available, but check on copyrights before you put forward an image to be used (see Legal issues below).
Our designers can also choose a high quality stock image if you would prefer. It will be one that they think is the most suitable for your menu. We purchase one professional stock image to be used on the front cover. The better quality the image passed to our menu printers, the better overall the takeaway menu printing will be. As far as Cheap Takeaway Menus is concerned cheap takeaway menu printing and high quality takeaway menu printing is the same thing. Great images are a big part of that.
Using small images all over a menu is a bad idea as it will start to become messy and distracting. Do NOT use scanned images from other menus! If more than one image is used keep them big and strong. Any background colours on the photograph can be added to the colour palette of the design. Images which lend themselves well to being cut out or cropped, and which complement the overall look of the menu are the way to go.
Images of ingredients don’t generally work – people want to see an idea of what’s going to turn up at their door within the next hour when they place an order – so choose an appetising image of an attractive dish. The image working for you It is crucial when choosing and using images that you spend a bit of time thinking about how they might look as part of the final layout of your takeaway menu. We can advise you on this or choose the images for you. If we feel an image is unsuitable or doesn’t quite work we will let you know and explain our reasons. We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t.
Images on your takeaway menu can work for you in different ways.
First and foremost you want your takeaway menu to stand out and be an attractive proposition for your potential customers. We have all seen poorly made takeaway menus which are instantly unappealing. The old saying about first impressions is a major factor here. Your cover image has the power to entice a sale or put people off without a second thought. The brain registers images 60000 times faster than it does with text. Use that fact to your advantage.
Secondly, the image complements the text. As important and useful as images can be, it will be the text that finalises the sale. An image dropped in for no reason will have little effect and will needlessly take up some of that vital space we mentioned. The well-chosen and well-placed image will do something quite different: it will have customers searching for that dish on the menu. Anything that has people reading your takeaway menu is most definitely a good thing. If you have a signature dish or one that you’re particularly proud of, then having a quality photo of it is a great idea. It is visual proof of what you are offering.
Finally, images are brave. They put your cards on the table. They challenge you to do a better job. If you show an attractive image related to your takeaway business then you are opening yourself up to criticism if you don’t follow through with a product which is equally attractive. One or two great images on your takeaway menu will show you have the confidence in your food to make a claim for their quality and prove that you care about how you are perceived.
When choosing your imagery, always ensure that you get images from reputable royalty free image sites, as it is illegal to take an image you find on the Internet and simply use it on your printed materials without permission. Be aware that ‘royalty free’ does not mean ‘free’. What it means is that once a license fee is paid, the images may be used many times without paying additional fees, but the initial license is necessary to protect yourself. When you license a royalty-free image, you can use it in almost any application, for as long as you like, according to your license agreement. The cost is often based on the size of the file.
If you would like us to source the images for you we only use www.123rf.com. We have an account so our team can access them. Please use the search function to find the dishes you want.
Please note that we will not use illegal images sourced on sites belonging to other people (e.g. found using Google images). We will ONLY use legal professional images purchased on stock library websites like www.123rf.com. An image may be on the internet, but that doesn’t mean it is free to use. A license may still be needed. There is a difference between an image being online and an image being “in the public domain” (“public domain” refers to any content that is not owned or controlled by anyone). There are some completely free stock images available online, but obviously your choice may be a little more limited. Please make sure the image is free to use.
You can also source the image(s) from anywhere you want to, but this would be at your own cost and we would not use them elsewhere.
Illegal use of images can result in infringement of copyright leading to monetary damages, lawsuits, costly legal fees and under some rare circumstances, criminal charges. Don’t panic though. If you have any doubts or questions about use of images, feel free to ask us.
Your takeaway menu is your business card. How many businesses get to present their business card to thousands of prospective customers? It’s a gift to be used wisely. Don’t waste a fast opportunity to impress. A takeaway menu can be a beautiful thing and much more than a functional tool. This is why we do what we do. We truly believe in combining what your business needs with what your customer will be swayed by. If a picture can speak a thousand words we want every one of those words to add up to an order for your takeaway.