By Shara Bohach
The new year offers the perfect resolution opportunity to re-evaluate your brand. To take a look back on the past year and realign your efforts for the year ahead.
Personally, we visit hundreds of food and beverage establishments each and every year. Some are just opening and making their culinary mark, while others are well established and well known. They range from the local right down the road to treasured new finds discovered in our travels. As brand marketers, we cannot help noticing, evaluating, analyzing, and discussing brands everywhere we go. It’s just a hazard of the profession.
The most rewarding is when we encounter a brand that we feel has hit the mark and has been executed in all the right ways. No detail too small, everything considered and aligned to the brand. Some are extremely creative, while others are simple and elegant. But overall, there is no question that they know who they are. As customers we are immersed in their distinct message, design look, and interior space. In print and online the brand is defined. Language, tone and design cohesively communicate the same essence.
A successful brand is not the repetitive use of logo, graphics and message on everything. It is an evolving integration of elements that stay true to a defined feel and tonality. They uphold a consistent look and tone in every communication that makes them both recognizable and memorable.
Take a moment and resolve to evaluate your own brand.
Many think their logo is their brand, and it undoubtably does a lot of the heavy lifting, however your brand consists of so much more. Every marketing impression creates it. Your brand is essentially what people think and feel about your company. Can you list a few meaningful words that represent your business. Are you about integrity, service, quality, reliability, simplicity? Think about what your business strives to do better than anyone else. Consider a farmers market known for always having the freshest, local produce; a modern, upscale restaurant with inspired preparations and impeccable service; a gourmet product with a reputation of only natural, organic ingredients. This is what you become known for. It's your brand promise to your customers.
Now formulate those few words into a few sentences with a distinct tone and you'll have your “elevator pitch”. This is your answer to “What do you do?” It is not a tagline, positioning statement, or mission statement… although it does play into all of them. The pitch serves as the beginning to your unique story.
It is critical to stay in front of your customers. Put together a marketing calendar for the year. Plan out a healthy dose of creative, compelling promotions or events, and intriguing communications just to stay in touch and on their minds. The key is to stay visible. Be first after the holidays when nothing else is going on and cabin fever starts setting in. Understand the audience you want to reach and the language they speak when crafting your marketing communications. Don't talk young to an older audience and vice versa. Be succinct. You do not want to frustrate your audience with cryptic marketing messages.
Refresh When Needed
The best thing you can do for your brand is to define it and stay true to it. However, sometimes a brand starts to stale. It might look outdated, or the business focus may change. If you feel that's true, it may be time for a refresh. You might modernize the design elements and color palette or change up some language to better reflect the brand’s evolving personality.
Whether you have limited budget and time, or you have plenty of both, basic principles remain the same to making a lasting impression and cultivating a brand. Stay focused and true. Evolve and know your audience. Avoid adding conceptual noise – distracting elements everywhere to grab attention. These compete for attention, diluting your core message. Always have fun with the journey and stay creative.