A strong personal brand is essential and always has been if you want to stand out from the competition. As Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder, once said: "Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room." Doing your best and working hard isn't always enough to get people to notice. These days, it's also about being innovative and leading new trends. Here's how to reinvent your chef branding to make your mark this year.
First, Truly Understand Why Personal Branding Matters
A personal brand is important because it sums up your values and your mission as a chef. Ask yourself:
- What is it that you want to do?
- What do you think is important to achieve?
- What impact do you want to have on your customers?
Personal branding is what will set you apart from your competitors, transmits your name to the world and makes people remember you. If you don't have branding, you won't know where to go as a business or what audience to target.
In order to connect with people, you need to connect with your customers on an emotional level. When you connect with them in this way, you're inserting a little part of your personality and soul into your work. It creates a more meaningful interaction with your customers, which establishes credibility, demonstrates your values through your actions and builds your loyal band of followers. And this brings profit to the restaurant.
When you have that loyal band of customers with whom your brand's values really resonate with, you may start to see your career progressing in many ways. You'll increase your sales because those loyal customers will return to your establishment for your food and you'll enhance your skills by trying, testing and improving dishes. Owners will want chefs who bring this buzz with them.
It's something you'll already know, but it's important that you never underestimate the power of news being spread by word-of-mouth. Whether it's by social media or the old-fashioned way of actually speaking to people, customers will always seek and give recommendations on restaurants, bars and diners. Linked with career progression, loyal customers will return to your establishment and tell their friends about it who will, in turn, tell their other friends. And on it goes.
What people say and think about your branding is important because it could as easily put your restaurant on the map as it could take it off.
Where Should You Start?
Find Inspiration & Develop a Signature Style
Inspiration can come from anywhere. You might have a collection of spices or flavours that you prefer to use or a cooking technique that you like to implement. Whatever it might be, you can further develop that by drawing inspiration from your peers and industry leaders. And never be afraid to experiment with new trends.
Keep the signature touches in your dishes whenever you revamp your menu and the style will become your own.
Make An Impact - Get Your Name Out There
You already know how important it is to be talked about, so draw on that by doing things that boost your profile:
- Get your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter all on-brand and looking consistent
- Redesign your website in the same style
- Plan a series of newsworthy events or announcements (see next paragraphs)
- Make sure you're the face of them in the press and online
When it comes to being newsworthy, use the fact that local newspapers are looking for stories and content to your advantage - they'll likely showcase your restaurant in return for a free meal if you befriend a journalist on Twitter.
Host charity nights, take on work experience staff, help the homeless, create local-only produce menus... do good things and shout about it. Be the face of it when approaching local radio, lifestyle magazines and reshare it all on your own social media every step of the way.
A little effort and consistency will always go a long way.
Don't Forget To Keep Your Staff Safe
While you're rebranding yourself and making a mark on 2018, don't forget to keep yourself and your staff safe. Amidst all of the excitement, ensure that you invest in high quality, slip-resistant shoes which will keep your feet comfortable and allow you to continue to work safely and productively. Appropriate footwear will reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls - the most common workplace accident.
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