Crafting Your Brand

Crafting your brand means articulating your special sauce or your “unique value proposition” (UVP). How will you look and act differently than your competition? How will your clients and community perceive your kitchen? Key brand elements to consider:

    • Name. What do you want to communicate? Your kitchen name should be easy to spell, read, pronounce, memorable, and yours (no copyright infringement).
      • Consider a utilitarian approach. Do you immediately want clients to identify that you are a kitchen? Then you should include “kitchen” in your name. The same applies for any additional services like “incubator” or “consulting.” If your operation encompasses a larger mission, you may wish to take a more creative approach. 
    • Imagery. This includes color scheme, tone, font, logo or brand symbol, and anything else visual. How easy will it be to print your logo on apparel or on a flyer? Will it work in just black and white, if necessary? If you are selling products with the logo, how well can it be recognized on a store shelf?
    • Personality. Is your kitchen welcoming? Efficient? Exclusive? State-of-the-art? Like a family? How would you want someone to describe your kitchen if it were a person?
    • Positioning. Make sure you understand what you do (and do not do) in your community relative to competitors. This will help you decide how to differentiate your brand accordingly. Try creating a positioning map to see where you fit in the market, based on various kitchen attributes or offerings. The axes can be anything that you may compete on. Visualizing this will help you to develop your messaging and add to your marketing plan.

Developing Your Branding and Marketing Materials

While you may not have a large budget for marketing, be aware that your brand is the first impression future clients will have of your kitchen. Invest the time and money into doing it right. There are many resources to help you develop the materials that will represent your kitchen and company. You can hire a local graphic designer or branding professional, utilize online platforms to hire freelancers, or develop the designs yourself using online tools (see below).

If you have the budget to hire a local professional, you will have the benefit of working face-to-face with someone who knows your local community and can explore your kitchen more intimately. They may also leverage their established local network of printers, marketing outlets, and other professionals to streamline your work and ensure high quality results.

Alternatively, the gig economy is thriving and freelance platforms offer a cost-effective option over using a local designer. These marketplaces allow you to post your project proposal, evaluate interested freelancers, communicate throughout your project, send payments efficiently, and evaluate services. Like local designers, some freelancers will walk you through a branding exercise to better hone your brand personality, image, and messaging. This may or may not be at additional cost. Regardless of whether you hire a local designer or a freelancer from one of these sites, you should always ask to see examples of a contractor’s work before you sign a contract or send deposit payments.

Find a freelance designer or branding specialist on any of the following websites:1

If you are crafty, a number of online design tools will help you create materials yourself. They often simplify the technical aspects of developing your logo and design elements. Primarily, it becomes a question of time versus money. How much time versus money do you have to invest in brand development? How savvy are you with technology and design? Using online tools may be easier if you have a clear vision of what you would like your brand or logo to be. Here are a few online tools to help you explore creating your own designs:2

When deciding which materials to purchase for your kitchen, consider the marketing channels outlined in your marketing plan. Where will potential clients see and hear your message? Pamphlets? Flyers? Banners? Billboards? Radio? Do not try to do it all; simply find where businesses already are (health department, farmers markets, Facebook, industry events, etc.) and start sharing your message there.

Ensure you are getting the best bang for your buck and that it is easy for potential kitchen clients to stumble across your kitchen. Consistent exposure will trigger their memory of hearing your name the next time they need access to kitchen space. Can any of your marketing materials serve double duty? Functional materials such as pens, magnets, stickers, and even branded wooden spoons encourage your potential clients to see your name every time they use that item. This list of 120+ marketing channels is neatly organized so you can evaluate your endless options for client communication.

Websites

It does not take much to launch a website these days, but it does take effort and intention to have a professional web presence. Your website is an
extension of your brand, your kitchen, and yourself. Here are some questions you will want to explore:

      • What do you want people to be able to do on your website?
      • Will your website be informational or interactive?
      • Will clients need to reserve space or make payments on it?
      • Will you have an event calendar?
      • Will you be doing any e-commerce (sales via the web)?
      • Will your website link to or integrate your social media activity?

Below are some common kitchen website pages to consider:

Page Purpose
Home Name and value
About Kitchen mission, origin story and a little about the management team. Clients will want to see who they will be working with.
Kitchen Rentals Spaces and equipment
Pricing or Packages Detail your rates and make note of any pricing flexibility. Example: “Contact us for monthly rates.” Some kitchens opt not to post rates and will provide a contact link for more information.
Services or Classes Business support services or classes
Resources Local resources for licensing, certifications, food safety, food prep, business planning, etc.
News & Events Kitchen events, press, blog, and partners
Contacts

How do they reach you? Name, email, phone, newsletter, etc.

We strongly suggest creating a separate email and phone number for the kitchen, rather than using your personal contact information. You can create an email and phone number for free through Google. 3,4

Depending on the complexity of your website, you can use online platforms to design your own or work with a designer and/or programmer to create a custom website. See our tips above for working with designers and freelancers. Below are a few website platforms with a freemium
model. Freemium means, basic access and function are free, but it will cost you to upgrade to certain templates, features, and functionality.5

Social Media

Social media is everywhere and often seen as a silver bullet for marketing plans. Overall, using even one platform can increase search engine optimization (SEO) for a kitchen and increases digital presence. However, if a message is on the internet, it is very hard to make it disappear, making the real-time, two-way nature of social media potentially risky.

Often social media management is delegated to interns or even the “millenial-in-residence.” Ensure you have a clear purpose and voice with each post. Please be advised that social media is a dynamic, two-way communication channel that allows kitchens to promote themselves and their clients to voice their opinion (both good and bad).

Navigating social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and creating a strategy can be daunting, especially if you are not a regular user. Rest assured that your clients are not on every platform, all the time either. By understanding where your potential clients already are (through surveys and online research), you can pick which platform will provide the most exposure and interaction with your client base. To learn more about the most popular social media platforms for kitchens and food companies with examples, refer to this supplemental Social Media Platform Chart.

Social media aggregators, such as Hootsuite, are useful tools to help manage multiple social media platforms.6 A social media manager can post and schedule posts to several platforms from one web application, making the job more efficient and the message more consistent. Because a kitchen manager and social media manager can be the same person, it is important to capitalize on automation tools where possible. If you need an introduction to social media, Hootsuite offers free courses (although there is a fee to receive a certificate).

Hashtags (#), which utilize the “pound” sign symbol, are a way to organize and search topics within the vast reaches of social media platforms. Consider creating one or two hashtags that are unique to your own kitchen. For example, The Food Corridor uses #NICKitchens to organize posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news about the Network for Incubator & Commissary Kitchens (NICK). This helps connect the community and helps easily filter the posts coming from shared kitchens across the country.

Social Media Guidelines

It is important not to overwhelm your audience. You will want to be very strategic both in message and timing of your message. With social media, less is more, especially when too many posts per day means losing followers and engagement. Sound bites that encourage engagement work best. Here are a few guidelines to think about:

  • Post at least once daily. Consistency helps keep you top of mind and builds a relationship with your audience. Facebook and other aggregator sites allow you to schedule posts in advance, so take 30 minutes to do it all in one batch for the week. Remember, not all posts need to be kitchen ads. Social media is your chance to engage with potential users, current users, other stakeholders, and potential funders.
  • To help you know what to post, Hootsuite recommends the rule of thirds regarding messaging mix.
    • 1/3 of your social content promotes your business, converts readers, and generates profit.
    • 1/3 of your social content should surface and share ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses.
    • 1/3 of your social content should be based on personal interactions and build your personal brand.”
  • Make social media management someone’s specific task or job. If it is everyone’s task, it is no one’s first priority.
  • Create a calendar and schedule posts ahead of time.
  • Be mindful of posts in relation to current community atmosphere. For example, do not forget to cancel a post about having a carefree weekend if there has just been a natural disaster in the area.

Return on Investment for Marketing

Creating a marketing plan means estimating a budget for content creation and promotion. If you allocate resources to marketing, you should be earning some level of return on investment (ROI) for your time, money, and effort. This is the “Is it worth it?” test for kitchen administrators. ROI on your marketing may be measured by any number of metrics. Choose what is important to your team, kitchen, and investor(s), if applicable. Marketing ROI analytics may include:

  • Brand awareness. Are new clients learning about you through word of mouth and brand recognition from targeted messaging on social media and other communication channels?
  • Change in kitchen space booked. Did rental hours increase after you
    paid to promote a pricing deal?
  • Change in usership. Did an event or non-traditional rental bookings increase after you promoted a blog about how best to use your space?

Hootsuite offers a free social media-specific ROI guide and Buffer Social provides a short, easy-to-read guide on calculating social media ROI.

 

1 Authors have no affiliation with resources referenced.
2 Authors have no affiliation with resources referenced.
3 https://voice.google.com/u/0/about
4 Authors have no affiliation with resources referenced.
5 Authors have no affiliation with resources referenced.
6 No affiliation or endorsement from the authors.

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