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Putting All The Pieces Together To Build Your Brand

Published on Jul 19, 2012


Read 'Putting All The Pieces Together To Build Your Brand' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
By Matthew Toren Marketing types talk about branding all the time. Sometimes it seems as though they’re only using the term to define their focus, or to convince you that you need their services. In reality, branding is both simple and complex. Understanding the concept is the simple part. Your brand is what people think of when they think of your company, your products or your services. Suppose you sell ice cream. How would you describe your brand? Are you like Häagen Dazs, with rich expensive little containers of indulgence? Does your ice cream come in big bins of flavor ready to be served at a family picnic? Do you have a trendy shop where people grab an ice after a day of shopping or a place where folks bring the kids for soft-serve? Maybe you sell gelato, which is Italian for “I can charge outrageous amounts of money for little bitty containers of stuff and get away with it because it’s hip and foreign.” The image -- whatever it is -- is your brand. Here’s the complex part of the equation: building your brand to match what you want it to be. To understand how this works, let’s look at a modern success story for branding: Sprinkles Cupcakes. Before Sprinkles entered the market, cupcakes were little things moms made for their kids to bring to school and share on their birthdays. Some moms got a little fancy with sugar decorations or food-color frosting. Then in 2004, Candace Nelson opened the first Sprinkles shop in Beverly Hills. This was branding at its best. Here are the steps she and her husband took to turn cupcakes into something worth $39 a dozen. The story: Candace referred to her family history with a grandmother who made pastries in a San Francisco restaurant in the 1930s. This establishes tradition. Notice that there’s no mention of what she did before 2004. Then the story links to her customers with a reference to the tasty treats of childhood recreated in her store. This paints a picture with nostalgia, flavors and that personal connection. Do you have a story to tell for your brand? The product: A mix of simple polka dots on the top of each cupcake tell you what flavor it is. Different flavors are featured on different days of the week, some standard and others more unusual. If you love the chai latte, be sure to visit your local Sprinkles shop on Friday. By the way, these cupcakes are good, but don’t really measure up to a top-notch local bakery which will charge about $1.50 each. The shop: Architect Andrea Lenardin designed the Sprinkles shops to mimic the feel of European bakeries. The stores -- now scattered throughout the country -- all reflect a trendy cupcake style. The Beverly Hills Sprinkles received two AIA Los Angeles restaurant design awards. This is a far cry from traditional bakery style, but not that outré for Beverly Hills. The extras: Packaging, website, Facebook page, Cupcake Wars on Food Network, all of these touches combine to keep the Sprinkles cachet intact. Numerous cupcake shops have cropped up in the wake of Sprinkles, as the little treat changed from a kid’s nosh to an adult extravagance. But Sprinkles was the first and it defined the industry with an unassailable brand. From the olden days when the President of Hanes put pantyhose in an egg and called them L’eggs, branding has been used to turn generic products into something different and often exciting. So what unique pieces can you put together to build your brand? --------------------------------------------------------------------------- matthewPic-1Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of the award winning books, Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right. Their latest project is a free classified ads network called: iSell.com.