“Genuine as a fingerprint” was the caption in Andy Warhol’s year book. This is a man who knew something about branding and the artiface of marketing. Warhol positioned himself as a brand and though none of his products went below the surface, he never veered from his path.
When it comes to crafting your brand there is an important factor that is often forgotten, but should not be over looked, and that is Authenticity. A brand and a company must begin with core values. What is your company about? What are your standards for quality, trade, community etc.? This is the foundation that you will build your brand around. You must make your decisions carefully as you don’t want to set the standard beyond what you can achieve nor do you want it to limit you by putting unessicary parameters on it.
People want to believe in the companies they support. We have all been disappointed by a company or brand’s ideals at some point. Beef from McDonalds comes at the expense of clear cutting rainforests in South America, or Johnson & Johnson testing toiletry products on animals. We have also occassionally been amazed or impressed by a companies willingness to maintain their core values and align them with their customers. A great example would be Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. They were the company that invented social responsibility for capitalists. They backed it up for years by donating to charities, protesting for causes and supporting their community.
When Dunkin’ Donuts claims to be producing “artisanal” bagels, people don’t buy it, literally. When they make an egg white sandwich, I don’t question their brand because they’re still using a microwave. It makes sense. When Kettle tells me there potato chips are small-batch craft chips, I don’t buy it!
If you are want to do a multiple concept shop with quality, great! No one will chastise you for having big goals. Look at Shake Shack. No one is confusing the brand of Gramercy Tavern with the brand of Shake Shack, even if it is the same owner, they have different objectives. They represent their own character very well and we love them both for different reasons.
Once you have found your core values, you know your borders and you begin your messaging. Always keep it authentic and try to avoid complete band wagon terms like “craft”, “local”, “artisanal”, “small batch”. These words are becoming diluted by over use specifically from inauthentic companies. Eventually these words are like white noise. Consider creative incarnations like Roasting Plant with their new, “nano lot” of coffee. Smart!