So, you're an awesome chef. Or a superstar dj. Or a dead hot personal trainer. Working for somebody else has allowed you to hone your skills, but you've come to a fairly far-reaching conclusion: lining other people's pockets sucks.
You ask your friends and family what they think of your skill set, if they think you've got what it takes to go it alone. They say you do. You know you do. So, you sign the lease on a new venue for your cookery classes, or that warehouse where you can host the most awesome night the city has ever seen, or you set up a website advertising your PT sessions.
Opening day comes and goes. Something isn't right.
The buzz on the first day was okay, but since then, it's definitely been a declining slope of interest. You're starting to get worried. What did you do wrong? Everybody told you that you'd be golden. Your proposition is way better than the competition's. What the...?!
Ever been there? Sound familiar? You're not alone.
You see, having an idea and running with it is awesome. If you've got a skill that's marketable, then why wouldn't you make a few extra from it? It stands to reason that not to do that would be to miss an opportunity. But that's not the issue, or at least it very rarely is. The issue comes when you try to make that skill your sole source of income. Unfortunately, what your mates are telling you, as positive and as reinforcing as it is, isn't going to cut it. Being successful is about so much more than knowing what you're doing.
It's all about story.
Back in the day when everything was still black and white... (Honestly, do you ever wonder what an awesome world it would have been if everything really had been monochrome before colour was 'invented'? Hmm, maybe just us, then!) So, back to the point, before computers, before globalisation, it was commonplace to head to your local baker, butcher, candlestick maker, speak with the vendor, and really get to know what it was that they were selling, maybe even build a rapport with that individual. Over time, that relationship would grow and it would be that understanding of the seller's background, their ethics or morals or their passion maybe, that would keep you going back for more.
Just because we don't frequent bricks and mortar stores with the same gusto as we used to, doesn't mean that that connection, that story, isn't important anymore; in fact, whether your business is physical, virtual, or both, that story is now more important than it's ever been. And without a good story, without something to which your customers can relate, they might try you while the buzz is hot, but once that buzz is gone, they'll very likely move on. And it's way harder to get a customer back once they've left, than it is to retain them from the get-go.
So in this evermore virtual world, where you could be literally on the other side of the planet to your customer, how do you tell your story, or to put it another way: how do you get potential customers to part with their money buying your product over somebody else's?
Macey Brandt is from Berlin, living in the über-cool district of Kreuzberg, home of some awesome music, graffiti that puts most artists to shame, a lively and youthful political discourse, gay culture, Turkish culture, the list goes on; it's no surprise David Bowie spent quite so much of his time there throughout the Berlin Years.
Latching on to the burger craze that seems to have swept the world, Macey established an incredibly successful burger bar called simply Macey's. Selling food that is 100% organically produced is tough, but Macey has persevered nonetheless, it's that important to her. It's what makes her stand out from the crowd. You see, being able to sell burgers, whether the biggest food trend of the moment or not, is never enough on its own.
So when Macey decided she wanted to test the water a little further afield by trying to sell her product not just in another city or another region, but in another country, she knew that her story was the difference between success and failure, especially in Manchester in the UK where the burger thing has been down-pat for quite some time now.
Macey's is all about quality and honesty. It's those two facets that sell her burgers. Not her skills, as much as they are incredible, but the story behind the person; that's what makes Macey's golden.
When we first met Macey, not only did she want to test her product in the UK, she also wanted to use this opportunity to rebrand. Not confident that the Germanic feel to her current branding would cut it in another country, she wanted to try something less culturally motivated and more in keeping with the trends of the moment. To us, that meant highlighting her attention to detail and her integrity.
In creating the branding for Macey's, we decided to accent those two qualities through the packaging of her products, her menus and uniform, and of course through the interaction of her website and mobile app. We opted for pastel shades, which are bang on trend for 2017, in an effort to portray a company that isn't hiding anything, that this is a product and a story that you can trust.
The airiness of the branding accentuates the friendliness of Macey herself, inviting you to step in and taste her wares. It speaks to the integrity of the products, to their heritage and their reason for being. All of that is captured, and promoted, in order to bring to the fore what it really is that you're buying: you're not just getting a delicious burger, you're also getting an organic, well-looked after, carefully prepared product, that was made with love, and heart, and care, and attention.
So, when you're launching your company, before you do anything else, ask yourself this: what is it that led to this moment? Why are you passionate about your product? Where did it come from? How is it made? Who influenced you? Why this and not something else? Why you and not somebody else?
We know that when Macey opens her pop-up in Manchester's Northern Quarter, it's going to go down a storm. Not because she can cook mighty fine burgers (although she can), but because she shared her story with us, and allowed us to reimagine her branding based entirely on that story.
Story is everything. It's what makes us who we are. And it turns out, what makes us who we are is the thing that people are the most interested in above all else. When they understand, and appreciate, your story, then they'll appreciate, and buy, your product.