From the very early years of my life, I was always amazed by one company’s brand. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. That company is Coca-Cola. I love its logo and it is amazing how that logo is globally recognized. I don’t drink Coke (funny fact) but as a brand, it’s #1 on my list. I wrote a master’s thesis about their sponsorship and how that actually grows that brand the fastest. One thing that definitely comes across branding is being persistent. Again, with Coca-Cola no matter where and how you see that company, the image is very persistent. As someone who is committed to helping out small business owners to achieve a recognizable level of branding, let me first establish what are the elements of branding. I like to keep things simple (simple is Beautiful), so I am focusing on what I believe is crucial for small businesses. I’m using restaurants since I chose them to be one of my niches. This applies pretty much to any business as a rule of thumb anyway. The picture above is representing 4 legs table. Each leg represents one of the elements of branding. Everyone knows what happens if we remove a  leg or legs. One leg is actually tricky because the table would still stand and make it believe that is fine. It’s not a secret that as soon as someone leans on the missing leg’s corner, that table would fall. With two or more legs missing, that table is just completely not functional. Those four legs in branding are : Logo, Menu Design, Website and Social Media.
Logo We are surrounded by logos and some of them we quickly recognize and some we don’t. The ones that we recognize are most likely because we are exposed to the same logo either in real interaction or an online presence. Unfortunately, too many businesses don’t put that much attention to that. They would use one logo on building, another on a website and another on a menu or any printed materials. The recognition of the logo is what makes the company’s identity.  Using different logos is like playing a dress up game and asking your clients to guess the identity. Another issue is that business would stick to an old, outdated logo just because that was the first logo. As everything is changing, pretty much very fast, it’s important to update the logo, giving a new refreshed look as well. Your first logo can make great memorabilia on the wall to show history. Mentioned before  Coca-Cola example, think of how many places you visited that would have an old logo hanging on the wall in a form of a poster, picture or even collectibles. (I’m a collector so I have few of those myself). A logo is the first sight impression relationship, so it has to stay up to date with the trends to stand out.
Menu, Menu and once again menu.  It’s very common to see places where a menu is treated with non-existent planning. The menu is supposed to communicate with guests, teach them about each dish and provide the price. In too many cases menu is treated as food items just printed out. Restaurant, coffee shop or ice cream place should have a menu designed with a theme that goes along with the style and type of the place and a logo. The same menu should be used as a marketing tool to be displayed on a website to give the guests a sense of what they can expect during the visit.  Your menu on a website will go a long way if accompanied by a visual presentation of the dishes, possibly videos  in example of how a chef is making them.  Definitely plenty of room to be creative in that department.
Website. It is pretty much expected that every business has a website. It today’s online world, business without a website doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, the percentage of small businesses without a website is still pretty high. Hearing a question such as: “Do you have a website”, it’s just a norm. Within a small business, we have usually two issues when it comes to a website. One- luck of having one. Two- DIY ones that don’t have anything to do with the style of restaurant. A lot of times viewing those websites can be very challenging as most of the time they are not even mobile friendly. DIY sites are usually not ranked in search engines so unless potential customers type the URL, the likelihood of them finding the business through search is very small. Websites, like everything in business, should be updated and maintained regularly to be an effective marketing tool and keep up with rankings.
Social media. The restaurant business is truly a social business. Using social media platforms just seems to be no brainer.  Facebook is still the number one social media used by restaurants followed by Instagram. Twitter seems to have the lesser usage as of now. Unfortunately, there is some similarity to the website issues I mentioned before. One – no social media existence. Two – created account and left abounded without any updates, new posts. After talking to a few owners, I was able to learn that they would make a website and create a social media account because everybody else would do so. They thought of it as a digital business card that would help their business. I know that every owner wants to promote business, but know-how is crucial to be effective in that effort. Just creating a website or account on social media is like building a restaurant without a kitchen. It is also very important to keep a business social media account on a professional level, related to the business only. Using social media effectively will definitely require setting an advertising budget on a higher end. Having great posts, interesting content will need an audience to see it. Getting those posts boosted, especially in the initial stages of establishing those platforms, makes a lot of sense. Overall social media is about content and strategy to get the audience to see it and get those engaged to the door of a restaurant.
My goal is to always explain a digital marketing to small business owners in the simplest possible way. That’s why I’m using an example of a table to represent an important part of establishing company’s brand. Many business owners don’t realize that they run their businesses on a table with very weak or missing legs. And because of o that, even though they think they do the right thing, business is not growing. Kate P Design’s mission states on the Home Page of the website: “We build your website while you do what you do best – your small business –“. I can only hope that every small business owner understands that having a go-to digital marketing person is not just investment, but an important team member of an organization. Let’s be creative!

Kate Panasiuk

Kate P Design

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