The science of standing out with outdoor branding

outdoor branding

Star Outdoor helps cafés promote their passions through outdoor branding, and provides advice on how coffee businesses can maximise their use of logos, colours, and positioning for the best first impression.

Good branding doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and consideration to make sure a business has the right logo and messaging, display it in the best light, and select and supply the right outdoor products to share with passers-by.

“Most people that own a café, bar, or restaurant are fantastic at customer service or making coffee and food, but designing products and building a brand requires a completely different skillset,” says Mark Star, Founder of Star Outdoor.

“That’s where we come in – we’re experienced in branding like they are in hospitality. We’ve been supplying branded products for coffee and other industries for 15 years and have an inhouse graphic design team to help provide the best outdoor branding outcomes for our clients.”

Marks says the best advice he can give is to keep logos simple and first visual representation straight to the point.

“It’s important to have a strong positioning line for your brand that really gives people a feeling of what is important to the company. For a coffee roaster, a positioning statement could be something simple like ‘best beans in the world’ which links to quality, or more specific like ‘roasting since 1971’ to focus on their experience,” he explains.

“Our brand positioning, for instance, is ‘Star Outdoor: it’s easy’ and that flows through the business. It’s easy to contact us, it’s easy to get design assistance, and the products are easy to use.”

The biggest mistake Mark sees new cafés and coffee businesses make is trying to convey too much information too soon. 

“The first time people will likely see your brand is from a distance, so you want to send your message across clearly. If your logo is too elaborate or you’ve got five dot points on a café umbrella, they’re not going to be easily recognisable to the customer,” he says.

The way people view and interact with branding even changes as they approach the café, which Mark describes as the “science behind standing out and being memorable”. From a distance, he says the very sight of an outdoor umbrella denotes that coffee is available there, even before they can see the branding.

As the person comes closer, the café’s logo or that of their coffee roaster becomes more visible and they register more information about the venue. Once there, the logo is no longer visible on top of the umbrella, which now serves as a functional purpose. Meanwhile, A-frames, wall flags and wind barriers carry on that brand presentation. Finally, after ordering their coffee and food, customers are greeted by a final branding opportunity as they leave the café so they remember the experience and will come back next time.

“Maximising your branding opportunities means thinking about who’s seeing it and at what point,” Mark says.

“It’s all about making something memorable. You want people to see your brand and think ‘that’s my coffee place.’”

Many cafés will use outdoor products featuring the branding of their coffee roasters or other suppliers, which comes with pros and cons. It is often cheaper and quicker for the café to receive these products from their suppliers, and they can help draw new customers into the venue who are already familiar with the coffee brand. However, it can also limit the ability of a café to establish its own brand in the long run.

Mark says it has become common for cafés to co-brand their outdoor products, featuring their logo alongside that of the roaster, for the best of both worlds.

“You need to make branding decisions that are right for your café. If your business values quality and acting ethically, and your coffee supplier is the same, putting your brand alongside theirs can create that link for customers,” Mark says.

“Even the size of logos on your outdoor products goes back to the essence of the brand. Some clients want to get their business out there and maximise space, while others prefer something smaller and more discrete, offset in the lower bottom corner. It really depends on what’s right for that business.”

Cafés or coffee roasters may also choose to change their branding, and Mark says those that rebrand successfully don’t stray too far from what made them special in the first place.

“Many clients have rebranded lately and tried to do things that make their particular brand more memorable. They make take a colour they’ve become recognised for in some areas of the business, like their takeaway cups, and chose to use that colour across their umbrellas, wind barriers, and A-frames,” Mark says.

“If they stick to that one unique colour palate, it becomes more recognisable to a person driving down the street looking for their favourite coffee.”

With colour, it’s also important to think about what will work practically for the café and will weather the seasons.

“Some colours fade quicker than others, typically darker shades of black, red, and navy. Black acrylic fabric will hold its colour for about five years in sunlight, but if you print black text on white acrylic, the printing will fade faster than the background,” Mark says.

“Black is a popular colour for the coffee industry, so you’ve got to think about how to use it in the best way that will work the longest, and that’s usually as a base colour with bright branding.”

No business is the same. Star Outdoor works with individual clients to determine the fabrics, colours, and printing methods the work best for them. Mark says when it comes to developing branding that will help coffee businesses promote their passions, it’s important cafés start the conversation early.

“You’ve got to be careful you’re not going down a path that can’t be easily manufactured, choosing the wrong colours, or deigns that are hard to print,” Mark says. “You also need to have a timeline in mind. Our outdoor branded items are bespoke, made to order for each customer. We can turn around small runs quicky, but for large bulk orders, we’ll have customers setting up their orders now to arrive in new year for 2022.

“The sooner you can start the discussions with suppliers, the sooner they can guide you in the right direction. Once you have that information, everything starts to fall into place.” 

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This article appeared in the October 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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