Creating a brand is a never-ending process that can be immensely enjoyable, extremely frightening, and pretty overwhelming (like my marriage).
There are no wrong answers when it comes to influencing perceptions held about you and your business, but a few ill-advised steps and you’re suddenly missing the crowd that drives past a cafe and says “We should try that place,” because they subconsciously like the font and colour palette.
So here are four branding tips to capture that crowd (that crowd is my wife, to be clear).
Know your ideal customer
Who do you want to step into your cafe? Anyone who will give you money and not make a fuss, sure. But do you have an ideal customer profile (ICP)?
It’s worth doing an exercise where you think of your perfect guest and then consider the specifics of their life. What type of car do they drive? Where do they work? What would their Pinterest board look like? What was the last book they read?
Once you’ve created this fictional character, give them a name, and then keep them in mind with every decision you make. From an item on your menu to the number of philodendron plants you hang in the back corner near the restrooms, think about whether your new imaginary friend would like them.
Seems obvious, but chances are you’re too close to your business. Put your logo and entire visual identity on a page next to other cafes within a 15-minute drive. Are you really that special?
Your logo is so, so important. Deep down you know people make coffee-purchasing decisions based on logos, but maybe you’re a bean purist and aren’t willing to admit it.
Create a logo that stands out, is ahead of design trends (no easy task, of course), and works in multiple formats - i.e. it should be easily legible from across the street, look great on a takeaway cup (although, encourage reusable cups!), and make sense for a social media profile.
Be social on media
Speaking of which, we’re not here to tell you social media is here to stay. Hopefully, that line went away with IRL interactions in early 2020, but you do need to be thinking about your social media persona.
Is there something unique about your brand personality that you can flex in Instagram comments? Is there a unique feature in your cafe that you know will pop up in people’s stories? Or would people appreciate a little abrasive interaction from your brand on Facebook?
Social media is a proof point for brick-and-mortar businesses. Just because everyone who passes your location isn’t following you, doesn’t mean they aren’t looking you up on Instagram to validate your brand, food, and general vibe.
Capture attention with something unique about your physical appearance, lure them in with your visual identity (logo, colours, fonts, design elements), and then seal the deal with a beautiful feed (puns!) on social media.
Finally, one tip that can help any business: be worthy of a remark. If there is nothing about your business that is going to spark someone to say “Hey, you should check out X - they have this amazing Y,” then how are you going to thrive? (We can’t help you with Y recipes unfortunately.)
Growth happens when your fans willingly talk about you to their friends and family. As the old saying goes, it’s better to have 100 loyal fans than a thousand people who think you’re okay.
Stand out, do something different. Have a signature dish that doesn’t make sense, greet everyone by a random name when they walk in, have a robot moving around the cafe offering breath mints, or only play death metal at an appropriate volume.
Send us pics of your cafe on social media. We’re a bit obsessed with visually-appealing eateries, hence the feigned authority in this blog post.