Why Your Coffee Shop Needs a Brand, Why You Should Care and How to Get One

Posted by Alyssa on 2018-04-15

It takes more than good coffee to run a successful café. With coffee shops and restaurants popping up all around the country, the atmosphere, service, and your online presence (or absence need to be aligned so you can stand out and attract your ‘tribe’.

When it comes to Third Wave cafes and coffee shops, the business model and customer expectations are very different when compared with restaurants or fast food joints. Every café has its own personality and encourages customers to stay put, enjoying free Wi-Fi and helping to create a certain ambiance. To attract the right people and retain loyal customers, you need a brand voice and style, so you can separate yourself from the competition.

In this blog post, you will learn:

  • What branding is
  • Why your coffee shop needs a strong brand personality
  • How to get started developing your unique brand

What is branding?

Everything is your brand. Branding is one of those typical marketing words that is used so much that it doesn’t have a strict definition. You can brand anything that represents your company’s ethos and vision. That could include interior design, business cards, communication with customers, social media, customer service style, display boards, packaging, and even menu selection.

The process of branding involves working out your café’s personality—what people will associate with it when they think of you. The result is (hopefully) a cohesive story that is told in every interaction with your business.

Everything is your brand!

Why your café needs a brand

Are you a PC or a Mac? Do you shop at Tesco or Sainsbury’s? Brands help people express who they are, often incorporating them into their self-image. Whether it’s meeting a friend or arranging an informational interview, the café you choose speaks volumes about your tastes and values. Yours needs to say something, and that’s where branding comes in.

Here are three reasons your establishment should develop a strong brand:

1. Connect with your target market

Running a successful café or coffee shop business requires creating an emotional connection with stakeholders. When everything your café does is steeped in personality, you give people the opportunity to tell the world about who they are by buying from your shop. Additionally, a strong brand personality attracts likeminded employees who will buy-in to your mission and help you work towards success.

2. Stand out

stand out

Which are you more likely to remember: lying on a cookie-cutter beach during a packaged holiday or paragliding off a mountain over the ocean? Being a brand that stands out involves the same processes as creating a memorable experience. It’s all about activating the limbic system, the area of the brain responsible for memory and emotional responses. If you can give customers a great experience that creates an emotional connection, you can be sure they’ll remember you—and tell their friends about it.

3. Build relationships

Once you’ve attracted people to your café, your brand personality is what will keep them coming back. As you build relationships and trust, you simultaneously grow a community of people who want to see your business succeed. Community support exponentially boosts your chances of success.

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How to Get Started with Branding

Building a brand is more than choosing a cool logo design. A brand is your identity. It encompasses the core values of your business, guides the direction of growth, and motivates employees and customers. Here are 5 steps to building a brand identity for your café business:

1. Know your ‘Why’

With a simple phrase, Simon Sinek articulated the reason some companies outshine others: People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Customers come to you to buy your coffee, tea, or scones, but they also want to be a part of something. Ask yourself why you do what you do and what the unique value you offer customers is.

2. Write your mission statement

This process is harder than it sounds. You have to ask yourself what you want to achieve with your café and how it is doing that differently than everyone else. Ask yourself: What do you want your coffee shop to say about the people who frequent it? What impact do you want to have on the community and the industry?

The mission statement should define what you do and why you’re doing it. Once you’ve written it, it will act as the foundation for every decision, action, and direction the business takes to make sure it fits. You can always ask yourself: Does this fit in with how I want customers to think of us? Does this food or drink option attract the people we want coming to us? Does this blog post fit in with our brand message?

3. Mock up the brand visuals and design

Logos, taglines, values, colours, and so on—all of these will emerge from your mission statement. They should be consistent with what you want guests and employees to feel every time they interact with your brand. Don’t neglect your website. It’s often a person’s first impression of your business so be sure it matches what you have in store.

The interior design of a café or coffee shop is key to staying on-brand and attracting your customers. The space should feel special and appealing to the people who will be spending time there. Colours are extremely important—cafes tend to avoid loud, bright colours and prefer earthy, relaxing ones. They should promote a feeling comfort and familiarity, while staying in line with your values.

coffee brand colours

4. Create guidelines for a cohesive brand voice

The idea of cohesion extends to every part of your business. Each component of your brand should fit together. For example, an upscale café probably won’t have a snarky A-board outside; a coffee shop serving corporate customers probably won’t play heavy metal music. Employees should have a deep understanding of your brand so that they use it in communication, whether via email or when speaking to customers in the café.

Brand voice also extends to social media—choose relevant, memorable hashtags and write posts that show your passion in a way that customers can connect with.

5. Give it time

Marketing and branding are arts, not sciences. They require a lot of trial and error before you find the perfect formula for you. Building a brand is about giving your business a direction, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change course. If you’ve identified your core values and delivered them consistently, take the time to listen to customer feedback and try something new.

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Final Thoughts

The café business in Britain is booming, making it as competitive as it has ever been. A strong, brand-driven business is actually a customer-oriented business. When you attract the right kinds of customers, all you need to do is deliver on your brand promises to them. Take the time to develop your brand and articulate it, so new and loyal customers can recognise themselves in you. A good branding strategy makes it easier to know your customer, stand out, be consistent, and attract more loyal customers to your shop.

What are your café’s core values? Do you think you’re doing a good job being consistent? Let us know in the comments—we would love to hear from you!


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