Earlier this year my fiancé; Ann Challenor came to me with the idea to start-up her own cupcake business. I happily took up the roll of developing and designing the branding, and as I was pretty much my own client on this job I thought it might be a good chance to write a guide through the whole brand development process.
Ann has always made really great cupcake and I've often told her to try selling them professionally, however when she first told me that was what she intended to do, I quickly made clear that great cupcakes weren't enough. Whilst it's true that one of the best things you can do for your business is provide a quality product, you'd be naïve to think that there isn't someone out there that does it better (or if there isn't now, there soon will be!). The very very first thing you need to think of when starting a brand is "why?", or rather "why would a customer choose me?" in other words, what makes you unique? We call this a 'USP' (Unique Selling Point), basically it's what you have that nobody else has. In time your USP may be copied or imitated by rival businesses, but so long as you have a strong enough brand, the customer locks the USP to your company and nine time out of ten will always choose to come back to you. There's a reason Coca Cola hasn't been surpassed by another Cola manufacturer and it's because we inherently associate Cola with that brand. Think about it; you can type Coke or Cola into Google and it'll return Coca Cola products pretty much universally, but one is a brand and one is a product.
In the past Ann had made special gluten-free cupcakes for some of our friends and suggested that this might be a good USP for the business. Sure, gluten-free would be a great USP, there aren't many cupcake manufacturers out there that specialise in gluten-free cupcakes yet and there's definitely a market, however, you have to think about the size of the market. More often than not, it's not about how many people there are in a niche, but how many you can reach with your product. Getting the message out to all the gluten-free cake eaters of the UK would be a nightmare, but the idea did show us that perhaps Ann's USP lay in the way the cakes were made?
We decided to settle on a USP of using only fair trade products in the baking of the cupcakes. This was something that Ann already did for the most part and would be simple to implement. Fair Trade products are getting really great press at the moment and the appeal and demand for them is growing year on year. In fact, it's fair to say that the is a huge 'green' movement at the moment and so it would be good to associate the brand with being eco-friendly, recyclable,
The next step was finding a name. Ann had originally envisioned the business being called 'Cupcake'o'Clock' and whilst this was a fantastic fun name, it didn't really convey her new USP to the customer. Naming a business is so important as it has to covey not only what you do, but what personality your company has.
A great example of this is Virgin, the name originally came about because Richard Branson thought of himself very much as a virgin in terms of business expertise, however it's connotations to sex and risqué nature mean it sticks in your head whilst giving the impression that they are fun, fresh and modern.
The great Virgin logo however came a little later...
If your really stuck for ideas, then the natural thing to do is to ask your friends. However, in today's age of social media, that can mean hundreds of people. Announce that your starting a new business on your Facebook page and say that you need ideas of a name, this creates the dual purpose of getting you loads of fresh ideas and letting everyone know about your new enterprise without sounding like an advert. Just make sure you reply to all the responses you get! The last thing you want to do is to put people off by ignoring their suggestions, plus if you reply it counts as a comment and bumps your discussion higher up the Facebook news feed.
This is exactly what I did with Ann and she got loads of responses from people, not just about the name, but about the business in general, like how much would stuff cost and when she was launching! One of the name ideas we got back was 'My Fair Cakery', it was a fun play on words that got across the playful nature of the business, plus it had the word 'fair' in it which was a fantastic link to the USP. We tweaked 'cakery' to 'cupcake' to help define Ann's product and we were done, My Fair Cupcake it was!
Ann also took it upon herself to bake a special cupcake present for the person who suggested the name and posted a photo on Facebook, which was a really nice touch!
Once you decide on a name make sure you let everyone on your Facebook know about your decision, so that when you come to launch the Facebook page for the business, people are already expecting it and are more likely to respond to your invitation.