Building a brand

It may seem simple but understanding your customers and what they want is critical to the ongoing success of a café. Importantly, these learnings are also the foundation for establishing a successful brand for your hospitality business that gets attention, reflects who you are and ultimately brings customers in the door.

First off, you need to do your research

Making assumptions about your customers and competitors can send you in the wrong direction, so make sure you do some proper research. Look carefully at the demographics of your local area. Are you inner-city close to a university, or are you attached to a suburban shopping mall? Connecting to each of these customer bases will require a different approach.

Also, what are the common dining characteristics of the area? Are all the brunch places with outdoor seating full to the brim? Do people in your area line up for specialty coffee or pastries? What are your competitors doing and is it working? Ensure you are creating a brand that appeals to your target market.

Then, pick your focus and personality

What do you want your café to mean to people? Think of the most important attributes you want people to take away when they interact with your café, online or in person. Modern? Progressive? Authentic? Healthy? Traditional? What you want the café to stand for should come through in all you do. It should also be consistent. If you want people to know you as a family-friendly setting, ensure your branding and the way that your café presents itself reflects that. For instance, family friendly cafes should have high chairs and prominent and imaginative kid-friendly menu options to attract a child’s attention and make parents lives easier.

From here start with the basics – your logo, colours and fonts that will be used consistently throughout your café and online.

Then, how does this apply offline?

Consistency is key here. Once you have an idea of your personality you need to reflect this across the board. Consider your staff, how are they dressed? Do they have matching uniforms to suit your polished aesthetic or are you going for a more relaxed vibe where they wear their own clothes?

How about café fit out? If you’re family friendly, you’ll need comfy seats, kids play areas, high chairs, and spaces for prams. Make sure you are considering facilities and staff training in line with this too. If you’re keen to be known as a good date place you don’t want share tables. Going for the healthy vibe? You’ll need lots of crisp white accents and indoor plants.

You should also consider the food you serve as a huge part of your brand. Are you promoting yourself as progressive? Ensure the suppliers you use are sustainable and ethical (and promote this fact!). Are your recipes catering to all dietary requirements? Of course, your menu will change regularly, but ensure the food you serve suits your target market and your brand.

Importantly, how does this apply online?

Now look at your business, is it a clear demonstration of exactly what you stand for? Your Instagram and Facebook are just as important as the elements we’ve already discussed. Look at your social feeds and make sure they give customers the same feeling as walking in to your café for the first time. Is your café clean and fresh? Then, your posts should be too. If your café has a warmer, cosier atmosphere, use warmer lighting and colours in your posts. Is your focus on people? Your Instagram should be too! Your posts should all be backing up exactly how you want your café to be perceived.

Although ‘branding’ might sound like a term better suited for a corporate board room, it is the public face of your café and all the hard work that is put into this. Executed correctly, your branding will engage people with a consistent message about who you are, allowing customers to become regulars and build a community around your café business.