Barista Magazine

DEC 2017-JAN 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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WHETHER YOU'VE ACTIVELY WORKED on developing one or you've tried to avoid the subject all together, your brand exists. I'm not just referring to the name or logo gracing your cups, website, packaging, or storefront. A brand is the sum of many parts (including those things), but most importantly, your brand is the perception of your business in the minds of everyone who encounters it. A brand is an amalgamation of the promises you make to your customers and how well you fulfi ll those promises. Living up to the expectations you set is one of the most important things you can do to manage your brand and ensure that your company is perceived the way you intend- ed by customers and potential customers. Before a person ever purchases anything from your company, there's a good chance they have already interacted with some facet of your brand, and this will begin to shape their opinions about your business before they've even stepped in the door of your shop. The smallest details can inform people about what your company rep- resents. These early brand encounters could be a recommendation from a trusted peer, a suggested post on social media, seeing your product on a shelf, or simply walking by your storefront. The power of the subconscious will make note of the small details that can turn a perception positive or negative before you even get the chance to make a sale. While this may seem daunting and impossible to control, having a brand strategy in place will help you identify what's working, what's not, and how to respond. I've spoke at length regarding brands at previous Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) events in Seattle, with Tamper Tantrum across parts of Asia, and at Barista Camp in Estonia. It's a subject I am continually invited to talk about because brand matters so much—not only for coffee companies, but also for any type of business. A good brand can give you an edge that attracts customers to your establish- ment over your competition. What's more, a great brand can lead to a multinational corporation acquiring you for hundreds of millions of dollars based on your potential. While one is more likely than the other, both scenarios demonstrate the value of a brand, which can sometimes be hard to quantify and diffi cult for a small business to prioritize. As a company grows more successful, however, its brand often becomes its most valuable asset. The thought of branding, or the process of developing a brand, can feel overwhelming to a small-business owner. There tends to be an aversion to branding which stems from the misnomer that brands are something only large companies can afford, or that hav- ing a brand makes a small business seem more corporate and less authentic. However, to ignore your brand completely leaves public perception of your company up to chance, which is an incredibly risky decision that any serious business owner should try their best to avoid. A brand strategy is a road map that will infl uence your mar- keting, your employees, and your product to help you create a more consistent experience that can lead to better value and brand equity (meaning how much of a premium you can charge for your product over generic brands). Now that you have a better idea of why your brand is so import- ant, and how a brand strategy can help guide your progress, what do you need to do to take control of these things and get serious about making your brand an integral part of your company's stra- tegic priorities? 1. Defi ne your brand. Whether you're starting fresh or revising your current brand, you need to begin by defi ning who you are, what you do, and why people should care. What is your company's mission? What are your values? How are you different from your competitors? What qualities do you want associated with your company, and what kind of personality does it have? Be specifi c, but also try to be unique. Consider what you offer that your competitors don't. Far too often in the specialty-coffee industry, I see virtually identical "about us" statements on websites that talk about commitments to farmers, quality, and the "perfect cup of coffee." These musings have become so cliché they no longer convey anything meaningful that differentiates your business from everyone else's. Keep it simple, and be thoughtful and precise. Once you've defi ned your brand with a framework, you need to create the visual elements that will communicate your brand's ideals. This step will be far more successful if you hire a professional. I know you have a niece or nephew with a pirated copy of Photoshop, but please don't allow them to create the primary visual identity of your business. Work with someone who can audit the market while understanding and translating your brand needs into a visual representation that successfully encap- sulates the personality you want to convey. Anne Lunell, cofounder of Koppi Coffee in Sweden, agrees: "Working with a professional designer made all the difference when we rebranded last year." Be sure to factor the cost of hiring a designer into any budget you might have. It shouldn't make you hesitate to pay as much for a pro- fessional designer as you are willing to pay for an espresso machine. Your brand affects your entire business, not just the espresso drink- ers, and it has way more potential to draw in business and add value to your company in the long term. So keep in mind that this investment will lead to better sales. "After we redid our branding and package design just over a year ago, it defi nitely made a difference on sales," says Anne. "We made our brand more approachable to a wider customer base by simplifying the information on the packages and made it more modern with a design that can change over time. This way the packages will feel new and fresh for years to come." Once you fi nally decide to move forward with a design, the costs of printing and merchandise can add up, so you should be sure that your design direction will last long enough to outlive the investment. A good designer won't simply create a strong logo, they can also develop a complete visual system that includes consistent colors, typography, and imagery that can be applied to signage, invoices, packaging, stationery, advertising, website, and merchandise. This vi- sual language should serve as a unifying force that marks every touch point of your customer experience. It's important to develop a set of brand guidelines and templates so that everyone who will be commu- nicating on behalf of the company knows how to properly represent it. Be sure that your entire staff is brought into the conversation regarding your brand, as well. You should be confi dent they under- stand the company's vision and that they are equipped to express it. Every employee is a brand ambassador who can have an impact on the perception of your company. And let's not forget: Treating your employees as an integral part of you company's success will also make them loyal and enthusiastic about representing your brand's vision as a part of their job, whatever it may be. Let's discuss your brand. 84 barista magazine

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