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Your Firm and Your Brand

What is your brand? According to a recent article in Entrepreneur magazine, your brand represents how you are perceived by others. Your brand is your promise to your clients. It tells them what they can expect from you and your team. It differentiates you from your competition. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be, and who people perceive you to be.

Is your catering firm the innovative cutting edge maverick in your industry? The experienced, reliable one? Is your food and service the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You can't be both, and you can't be all things to all people. Although some firms have tried this by creating different brands under the same roof. Most have failed.

In my own case, I’ve tried operating lower-cost venues with little success. Running a beach concession and a restaurant in a blue collar golf club were failures. In fact, in retrospect that actually hurt my brand. Fortunately, time heals and at this point of my career our brand exudes luxury catering and event production.

But what about you and your firm? Have you spent some time talking and thinking about your brand? The foundation of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging, and promotional materials—all of which should integrate your logo and communicate your brand.

In 1980 my firm’s name was Bills’ Catering since there were two Bills and our logo was two chefs. Very simple and not very unique. We tried to serve everything from coffee and doughnuts in a downtown office building from a cart, to producing major food productions at Miami’s top venues. Over the years, and after the death of my dear friend and late partner, Bill Hendrich, in 2005 our logo has morphed into this.

Enough about my branding journey, however; let’s talk about your brand. Take a hard look at at your company’s mission statement and your menus and services, find out what others think about your firm and the qualities you want them to associate with your firm. You might wish to consult a nonprofit small-business advisory group or hire a firm to help you create your brand and your material. In my case, we recently did the latter and it’s beginning to pay great dividends.

A great logo is a must but even more important are your photos. It does pay to hire a professional food photographer if you do not have one on staff. Having a dozen or so mouthwatering photos is mandatory. These photos will showcase your brand more than words will ever accomplish.

Branding extends to every aspect of your business from how you answer your phone, to your attire, your email signature—everything. Do you have a tagline? One that is memorable and meaningful? Remember it’s not about what you, it about what you can do for your clients. WIIFM…What’s in It for Me?

Here’s mine:

Bill Hansen Luxury Catering and Event Production offers you a number of flexible catering and event planning solutions, from cutting edge to traditional, for your entertaining needs.

Consistency is also key to effective branding. You must deliver on your brand promise. If it’s value, then provide it. If it’s luxury, every detail must be luxurious.

Parting Shot: Experts all suggest that your branding can give you a competitive edge in your market, as long as your brand content represents you and your firm. How would you rate yourself?

Get Fresh, May 2016

Bill Hansen

Bill Hansen

CEO, Bill Hansen Catering and Event Production, Miami, FL

From catering for four U.S. Presidents, to Pope John Paul II, to champion Super Bowl teams, Bill Hansen brings over 50 years of catering, entrepreneurial and food service management experience to his consulting practice. A published author, Bill’s extensive expertise has made him one of the country’s leading food experts and Founder and CEO of one of South Florida’s top catering firms.

Bill’s areas of expertise are in leadership, and management. In 1980, he founded Bills’ Catering with his best friend Bill Hendrich. In 1990, Bill began teaching Catering Management at Florida International University. After 403 years, Bill’s firm continues to prosper, while spawning scores of South Florida caterers...