Takeaways from clarifying the brand messaging of a cafe

As a brand message strategist, I often help bigger companies with complex offerings. But, in recent times, I’ve begun helping corner cafes. I worked as a barista for 10 years, so I know the industry well, and I was looking forward to seeing how my brand message guide would translate to a hospitality venue.

I firmly believe that no matter what company you have, clarifying your brand messaging is one of the most important investments you make. But I’ve tended to gravitate to businesses where clear messaging is a matter of success or failure.

Cafe’s, on the other hand, I wasn’t sure. I know plenty of cafes that are extremely successful who never unearthed their messaging. Often, the messaging is intuitively espoused, but no one has actually articulated them on paper. So I wasn’t sure of the impact my Brand Message Guide would have.

Here’s what I found. In an owner-operated cafe, the owners are the heart and soul of a business. They reflect certain values stories, personality traits and they know the community, by name. They are the means by which connections and loyalty with the community come about.

But what happens when an owner-operator wants to take a step back? They have to entrust others to reflect the type of messaging which they naturally created. To make sure they do, the owner has to educate, train and provide a framework for a team. Often, though, they don’t.

Over time, the heart and soul of the business—the means by which connection and loyalty is created with the community—get diluted. Employees lose enrollment in the overall message. The identity of the brand is muddled. The vibe and culture disappear, and steadily the business gets quieter.

In this instance, clarifying your brand messaging becomes imperative. To once again show the community why they should care about our business, first, we need to show our team.

The cafe I helped wasn’t in dire straits. But they had operated for 10 years and they needed to breathe life back into their brand. So I went through my usual Brand Message Guide Intensive. I unearthed their customers, origin story, values, personality pillars, and voice. We created the guide, which provided the framework to integrate more storytelling into the brand. Instead of a splash-page website, we included the brand story. And we revamped the staff handbook by including the origin story, relevant values, and personality traits.

The cafe owner said the staff were more enrolled in the brand and felt connected to an overarching mission. The brand message guide also allowed the staff to better educate new employees as well as discern who was the right fit. They were also able to create more engaging online content that branched out from just food and drink, so they could build their digital following and create leverage for the brand outside the brick and mortar store.

So here are the takeaways:

  • If you’re running a venue and want to take a step back, you need to create a framework so your brand retains its heart and soul.
  • If you want to expand your brand beyond a brick-and-mortar venue, you need to clarify your messaging so you can understand how to strategically expand the brand to other mediums and income streams.
  • If you want to create better content online, you need to understand underlying brand pillars that go beyond food and drink.

Hi. I’m a copywriter and brand message strategist for hospitality, farm, food, and drink businesses who want to tell a better brand story.

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