Entrepreneurial branding, starting from zero

By Valentina Kristensen MCIPR, CIPR Accredited Pract. and Chair of the Influence Editorial Board

There are over 83,600 restaurants in the UK . We have more than 55 different chains offering every type of cuisine – Spanish, Greek, French, Italian, Lebanese, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and more – as well as pretty much every type of food – sandwiches, bagels, burgers, pizza, pasta, tapas, etc. There are too many restaurants to try in a lifetime. Too many to try in 10 lifetimes and often, we end up going back to the same places because we like the food, they make good cocktails, the décor is nice, the service is great, the location is convenient, it’s not too expensive, it’s perfect for a special occasion, or a whole host of other reasons.

So how on earth do businesses in this sector compete? How do they create a stand-out brand that’s going to keep customers coming back, as well as attracting new ones?

I will be tackling this challenge with a panel of experts at Influence Magazine’s live half-day event on 30th January. I will be joined by Kathryn Coury (Marketing Director of Brasserie Bar Co.), Rebecca Di Mambro (Head of Innovation at LEON) and Rob Robinson (Co-founder of Notes) who will share key insights on how to differentiate in a crowded market and build a brand from scratch. Not only are each of these businesses clients of the challenger bank I head up comms for – OakNorth – but they have all managed to establish a strong brand and carve out a niche for themselves despite increasing competition and several ongoing economic challenges such as Brexit, fluctuating food prices, and rising business rates.

Launched in 2004 with its first site on Carnaby Street, LEON has grown to 50 sites across the UK and three in the Netherlands. It specialises in “naturally fast food” with a menu inspired by the flavours, variety and natural healthiness of Mediterranean cooking. The business has a dedicated social media following – more than 17.9k on Facebook, over 23k people on Twitter, and almost 32k on Instagram – and has also released 16 cookbooks. It will be expanding to the US and Scandinavia next year but how does the marketing team plan to replicate the business’ success in a market almost 10X the size of the UK (the US has over 620,000 restaurants ), and given the country’s addiction to unhealthy fast food, how will they get American consumers to try something new?

Brasserie Bar Co Ltd has 36 sites across two brands: Brasserie Blanc – the French brasserie business inspired by Raymond Blanc – and The White Brasserie Company – a quality pub dining business taking the cuisine of Brasserie Blanc into traditional pub settings. Obviously, it helps that the business bears the name of a celebrity chef(!) but how else has it set itself apart and how does the marketing team balance activities between the two brands?

Launched in 2010, Notes has built a reputation for itself on the quality of its coffee. Regularly named in London’s top 10 coffee shops, it has managed to set itself apart from other coffee chains in the capital through its unique dual concept of being a café by day and wine bar by night. The business now has sites in Trafalgar Square, Moorgate, Kings Cross, Canary Wharf Underground Station, Canary Wharf Crossrail station, The Gherkin, Victoria, Angel Court and Bond Street Station. After nearly two decades of considerable continued growth, the coffee shop market is one of the most successful in the UK economy and is set to outnumber pubs by 2030. But as leading branded chains continue to expand and enjoy positive like-for-like sales growth, how do smaller independent providers such as Notes expect to compete?

If the above challenges sound similar to those you and your team are currently facing, join us at Influence Live to find out how these businesses are overcoming them.




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