When she’s not making or distributing independent films, Sara Kidd helps vegan business owners and entrepreneurs to create and build their brands.
Why is a ‘brand’ so important?
Establishing a strong, consistent brand is important as it tells your targeted audience who you are, what you offer and how you fit into the marketplace. It also creates credibility, trust and a foundation for your business to expand and grow.
What is ‘branding’ in a nutshell?
Branding is the process of creating the entire look, feel, name, language, and behaviors related to your business, product or person.
How is it different to marketing?
Your brand is what represents your business, product or person and marketing is the tool you use to expose your brand to your targeted demographic.
A lot of the time vegan food and other materials – even more so if organic/sustainable – are pricier because they’re not subsidized (whereas animal-based/non-green materials often are). How can businesses use branding to deal with the challenge to stay competitive and attract clients?
The key here is to identify which demographic are willing to spend more money on organic and sustainable products.
Develop your brand to reflect the values of this audience, remembering to also align with their behaviors. To start this process look at successful and unsuccessful brands that are targeting the same audience and use them as case studies.
How often should vegan business owners revisit and possibly change their branding?
Vegan businesses should revisit their branding if they are not attracting their desired market and not achieving their business goals.
What are some of the most common mistakes vegan business owners make in regards to their brand or branding?
A few common mistakes are as follows:
1. The owner creates a brand that they like without considering the demographic they want to target. Just because you like it, doesn’t mean everyone else will.
2. You decide to do the branding and design yourself because you don’t want to pay a professional.
3. The branding for the company is well targeted but the personal branding of the owners/executives isn’t. You are a direct reflection of your business.
4. Not understanding what your demographic wants (not needs) and giving it to them.
How can these be avoided?
Work with professionals who understand branding, design and the behaviors of your demographic. Invest in this now as it will save you time and money in the future.
Work on your personal branding. How do you want to represent your business and how do you want your audience to see you?
Personal branding will increase the value of your business. If your demographic likes you, they will want to buy you and everything you offer. Working on yourself is just as important as working on your business.
Many vegan businesses went through and survived the Global Financial Crisis of 2007/8 and beyond. What steps – from a branding perspective – should vegan business owners take when business slows down, even if not as extreme as that economic downturn?
Continue to be consistent with your branding behaviors as much as possible. If your business is known for releasing a weekly newsletter, having fast response times or really positive messaging, stick to those behaviors. People respond well to brands they know they can rely on.
There are now many more options available for people to buy vegan products – more restaurants, food items, clothing, cosmetics and so on. How can vegan business owners use branding to stand out within the vegan business arena and maintaining clients/customers?
By really understanding your audience (and knowing the right audience to target) you have the opportunity to create a strong and stable brand that will directly resonate with them. They will want to buy your product or service because it ‘feels’ right.
Everything about your brand aligns with their values and behaviors making the purchase an easy decision. This will make you stand out from the crowd.
The colors, fonts, textures, ingredients and technologies all matter when creating a strong brand. A brand creates trust between you and your customer, securing return business.
For businesses to succeed, they generally need some form of expert help to ensure the business grows. At what stage should a new vegan business hire a branding professional or seek professional advice for their brand?
From the very start as branding builds the foundation of the business.
Many vegan startups say they can’t afford to pay for branding help. What’s your response to this?
Find the money or research as much as possible.
The internet and social media is awash with so many people claiming to be expert marketers and many of us have been ‘burned’ by investing our time and money with someone who has ultimately disappointed. What are the key things vegan business owners should look for and take into account when hiring a professional to help them with their branding?
ALWAYS get recommendations from people you trust who have already worked with them. Ask for examples from the professional and shop around. Make sure that the person you are hiring at least understands your vegan values or are vegan themselves.
Meet with them in person and discuss what you are wanting to achieve. Get a feel for them and make sure they are someone you want to work with.
Also remember when working with graphic designers, they don’t always have a background in branding. Usually their main goal is to design something you are happy with, not what your audience wants.
On the flip side of that, business owners also need to be prepared to implement strategies identified by a good branding professional. What do you look for in a business owner before deciding whether to take them on as a client?
The first thing I look to establish is their personal and business values. I will not work on a brand that doesn’t align with my own values as a vegan. I work with many filmmakers, but I only work on films that promote a positive, cruelty-free and conscious message.
Secondly, is budget. No matter how you look at it, as an entrepreneur you need to invest money into your business to make money.
For those who aspire to owning a vegan-run business, what in your opinion are the key things they need to take into account – from a branding perspective – before making the jump from employment to self-employed/employer?
Research, research and research!
Who is your key demographic and are they reachable? What are their behaviors and where is their eco-system? Does your product and current branding reflect what they are looking for?
Can you complete in this market? Do you have a budget for branding and marketing? Know your audience and give them what they want, not what you think they need.
What are your thought on whether a vegan-run business should use the word ‘vegan’ in their branding?
It really depends on the audience you want to attract. Are you wanting to market to the mainstream or to people who have already converted to veganism? Can you compete in these markets? What is the end goal for your business or product?
Is your business international or local? There are many different variables to look at in this situation. Hiring a branding consultant is a great way to work through these questions and make sure that your branding and its entire look, feel, name, language, and behaviors resonate with your customers or clients.
Sara Kidd is the GM for Indievillage, which specialises in film distribution and consultation services. (www.indievillage.org). She has spent the past 10 years in film, television, marketing and brand development. Her strong understanding of audience and consumer behaviours has led to highly successful campaigns for her clients. Indievillage’s content is viewed by 61,000 people per day across the globe. Sara has assisted many business owners with identifying and building audience fan hubs and structuring release and marketing strategies. She also works as a consultant with ethical small businesses, assisting them with branding and marketing strategies. Contact Sara at email@example.com
Katrina Fox is an award-winning vegan journalist, publisher, speaker, PR consultant and media trainer who teaches vegan business owners, entrepreneurs and change makers how to get free publicity by sharing their stories. Katrina was a regular contributor to Forbes for a year, writing about vegan and plant-based business. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Vegan Business Media, the host of Vegan Business Talk podcast, and the author of Vegan Ventures: Start and Grow an Ethical Business. Katrina is also the creator of Vegans in the Limelight: Online PR course for Vegan Business Owners and Entrepreneurs. For more information and to hire Katrina, email her at katrina [at] veganbusinessmedia [dotcom]