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Building Your Bakery’s Brand
BakeMag.com, April 13, 2010
by Tim Huff, Technical Service Manager, The Pillsbury Bakery Institute at General Mills

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Your bakery’s brand is much more than a logo or slogan. It’s the sum of everything your customer connects with – from the products you sell and how your bakery looks to way it makes customers feel when they walk through the door.

Consumers often have compelling, favorable associations with strong brands and will often pay more or go out of their way for a strong brand. Brands are associated with quality, and quality commands a premium. Branding can give you a distinct advantage with specialty markets, can fortify a premium pricing strategy and can set your bakery apart in the minds and hearts of consumers. 

In today’s competitive bakery environment, differentiation is essential to the retail bakery. Appealing to the consumer at these critical touch points can help consumers appreciate your bakery’s brand and everything it stands for. Here are a few tips to help build a strong brand for your bakery.

Make a Connection with Customers
A bakery should aspire to connect with every customer on an emotional or experiential level.  Each and every contact a customer has with your bakery matters. Think about how your bakery’s location, and virtually every sight, smell or sound within the retail area of your bakery creates an emotional connection. Pay extra attention to each aspect of the customer experience to add value to your customers’ impressions of your bakery and your brand. Remember, your brand can help build customer loyalty. 

Some bakeries may not have branded products, but the experience of coming to your store might be part of your brand. Your brand may be as simple as being known as the friendliest folks at the old-fashioned, delicious neighborhood bakery.

Have clear expectations to welcome customers as they come through the front door. Offer assistance in finding the perfect baked treat, be positive and friendly. Thank customers for purchasing your product and let them know you look forward to seeing them again. Your bakery needs to communicate to your customers that they are valued.

Be Part of the Community
Make sure you’re personally connected to the community. Gain a better understanding of your community to help you to better serve your customers. Be visible by serving on local boards or having an active role in local events or committees. Work with a group that you believe in and has affinity with your bakery’s goals.

Get credit for your involvement in the community. Promotions, sponsorships, programs and particularly, your people can all significantly enhance your brand. Send out a press release jointly with an organization to announce your gift of time, money or service.

Enable a Celebration
Another level of connecting with your customer and building your brand starts with applying focus on the celebration and the happiness you enable. Recognize the role that you can play in providing a one-stop solution for the celebrations of life. You want your brand to transcend baked goods.

A community baker can play a key role in their customer’s everyday victories, successes and celebrations.  Don’t just sell cake. Provide a busy mom with their child’s “best birthday party ever” package. 

Most bakers got into the bakery business because of the skill and passion they possess for creating fabulous baked goods. For many, their attention has stayed on the product with minimal recognition for the impact these products have on people’s lives. The key turning point for many bakeries happens when they recognize that they are more than just another bakery, they are an “edible gift shop.” 

Be Known for Something Special
Consistently promoting your signature item is a key part of developing your bakery’s brand. You’ll be remembered fast. Truth be told, most bakeries don’t intentionally set out to develop a signature item.  If you don’t think you have a signature item, start asking your customers – they will tell you. 

Promote your signature products to differentiate the unique experience your bakery offers. A simple method is to enhance to your recorded voice mail message. Instead of simply stating your name, include your slogan and a signature product hint. As an example, “Thank you for calling Huff’s Bakery, home of the Scandinavian Almond Bar – where serving you is our treat.” 

Branding is of course, a very personalized thing. Specific ideas unique to your business and product mix must be explored. Understanding the importance of branding, and doing everything in your power to enhance your branding experiences with customers is a key opportunity to grow your business.

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