“Branding is so much more than a logo. It should be a personality. It should be instantly recognizable.”

That’s one of the many substantial pieces of advice offered by Katie Lake to those with aspirations for running a baking business. The owner of Malarkey Cakes in London was once a newbie in the baking world, but used her knowledge from her previous profession to build her business from the ground up.

After being proposed to, Lake, who was already cake-obsessed by that point, decided to make her own wedding cake as well as every other material for her wedding. Given her background in graphic design, this made sense. It was the creative outlet she had been looking for and it sparked her interest in running her own cake business.

That’s when Malarkey Cakes was born. Lake wanted her cakes to reflect her graphic design background. She started experimenting and found a love for wafer paper in her cake designs. She carved out her own niche and quickly became known for her unique high-end style.

Finding your niche is essential to success. Many business owners may be asking themselves, “Why would I want to cut out a huge percentage of my customer base?” Lake argues that you should think about it the other way, focusing on why people would come to you. This is an incredibly saturated market. What is your unique selling point?

For Malarkey Cakes, it’s all about style. For your bakery, it doesn’t have to be style – it can be service, flavors, marketing style, the venue you sell from, and much more. There will be some trial-and-error involved, but it will be worth it in the long run. If your audience likes what you do, it will make running your business more rewarding for you and more appealing to your ideal clients.

The next question you should be asking is, “Who is my ideal client?” You need to be clear on who they are and build your business around that. Age, income level, relationship status, kids, hobbies, where they shop and where they spend their time online are just a few of the categories you can think about in generating your ideal client. This will be especially helpful when creating branding and messaging. It may even help you in discovering your niche.

Your branding should be consistent throughout all your materials. As Lake says, it’s more than just a logo. It should be reflected in your website, all social media platforms, colors, imagery, packaging and more.

“If your logo features a really bright orange, but this color isn’t featured anywhere else, then something is not right,” she says. “Everything needs to be cohesive.”

While you can certainly handle personal branding yourself, just like Lake did, she recommends paying a designer because they can see things from the outside. If you DIY your branding, you may only design for your likes, as opposed to your clients.

Marketing plays such an important role in the success of a business. Having your own website can help you to stand out and allows you to showcase your story, what your bakery is about, the products you offer, and how to contact you. Malarkey Cakes has an extensive website featuring sections such as Cake Design, Gallery, Flavors, Prices, About, Blog, Get in Touch, and Classes. Not only does this help potential customers in finding what they want, it adds legitimacy to your business and helps in SEO so that your business can be more easily found online through searches.

Pricing is another aspect of the baking world that many business owners have struggled with, especially early on. Here are some tips Lake provides for pricing for profit:

  • Work out your basic costs as a foundational part of your business.
  • Cost up ingredients per product.
  • Time yourself for how long it takes to make the average cake. This will change over time as your skills improve and you develop your style.
  • Copy pricing is bad for business. Work out your own costs depending on your circumstances. Don’t copy another person’s pricing, because you may not have the same business model.
  • Costing up your products correctly may be time consuming but will give you more confidence to send out quotes knowing you can’t afford to charge less.
  • If you look at your costs now, are you working for free or below minimum salary? This will lead to burnout at some point.

Finally, Lake says that growing a profitable business is a process and not as simple as putting your prices up. Your ideal client, branding, marketing, and pricing need to be in alignment.

“For example, if your branding says cheap cakes, then prospective clients will expect to pay low prices,” she says. “But if your branding says high quality, designer, luxury cakes, then people will be investigating more if you are making a proper luxury wedding cake.”

Through the Malarkey Cakes website, Lake teaches cake decorating classes and provides business mentoring through workshops and one-to-one sessions. She covers all aspects of setting up a sustainable cake business, including identifying your ideal client, branding, marketing, and pricing.

Things to consider when costing up cakes

  • Ingredients for baking and decorating
  • Consumables such as boards and boxes
  • Delivery (per mile or fixed fee for distance covered)
  • Overheads (rent, water, gas, electricity, WIFI, etc.)
  • Estimated time to make the cake – see yourself as an employee and make sure you get paid for your time)
  • Profit margin – a percentage profit to invest back into your business to help it grow