Above the Bar – Branding

1.    As a bar or nightclub owner/operator, why is brand important?
Branding is Marketing, the first step in creating a brand that works, is to create a brand that explains to a potential consumer what you are, just like putting a the mission statement of your venue into the name, for example if you are opening an Irish Pub naming the venue “Bob’s” or “Rick James” this is not sending the message to the consumer. When create a brand create a brand that works for you and your consumer, the brand is so important in separating you from all of the other venues out there, the brand

2.    What is the best way to market your brand?

There are two main ways in which you can market your brand.

Internal branding; How do you maximize your message to the consumer, from the door to the floor, bombarding the consumer with your brand in ways that are subliminal, to in your face branding, as an operator you must make effective use of your brand on the many items at your disposal such as, Hostess greeting, Server greeting, Bartender greeting,  Food Menus, Drink menus, Employee uniforms, Napkins, Coasters, Glassware, Pens and even the receipts for the bill are just a few ways of making sure that when that consumers experience is finished you have imprinted your brand on the consumer.

External Branding; you can break this up into two categories, Marketing which includes Radio, Hand flyers, Wrapped vehicles, TV, Internet marketing and social media outlets.  The second is brick and mortar branding; this includes external signage, banners, flags or other physically visually branded items.

3.    How does one become a brand? Research, planning and hard work are only the beginning,

4.    How can an owner/operator make sure that their brand is working? When first time consumers arrive and their preconceived expectations of the venue are met or exceeded then the brand is working to draw and fulfill the needs of these consumers. The brand truly begins to get its legs when it can track returning or loyal consumers. At some point the brand itself will evolve, not with your help it will be the consumers that will often determine the path and the power of the brand, this then gives the brand staying power. One test of strong the brand is when another similar venue opens and attempts to capture your consumers. This will test the strength and quality of the brand.
5.    What are some of the challenges owners face when branding themselves? One of the challenges faced when branding your venue is determining the affect that the brand has on all demographics and aligning the brand and your target consumer with the business model.
6.    How can independent bar owners compete with big chain brands? Look at these bigger brands as a benefit to the market place as they have created an atmosphere and experience for the consumers  your challenge is not in creating a bigger better venue but in creating a better experience, It is my belief that competing with other venues is never the right way to do business, choosing a path that is similar to a big brand and then separating your brand in such a way that allows you to stand out and above the bigger brands, another weakness of the bigger brands are they cannot make the swift changes to their business model, that smaller brands are able to in this ever evolving world. Smaller venues have a freedom that the larger chains will never have. As I have always preached this business is never black and white but all of the shades of grey.

7.    How can independent bar owners differentiate their brand?

8.    What are the benefits to having a strong brand name?  The consumers are able to immediately identify with the brand, brands often come along with something they are known or famous for. Having a strong brand helps you beat the one this I always tell everyone that I cannot beat in this business, “NEW” I cannot ever beat new and the fact that the consumer is a curious as a two year old child, having a strong brand will shorten the total time in which consumers might check out the new hot spot before returning to the tried and true!

9.    What are the negative effects of a brand?