Launching a business can feel like a juggling act. There are so many things to oversee and many of them you didn’t plan for. Branding is one that can be glossed over and rushed. Having a strong brand is incredibly important and you can’t afford to overlook it, even if you’re lacking the time, money and resources.
Luckily, we can call on some expert advice. Net.Works members Avocado Sweets Design Studio are award-winning London designers and communicators on a mission to transform life with effortlessly enjoyable spaces and stories. They are also husband and wife. In 2010 Evros and Susie Agathou combined their skills in interior design, branding and communication and launched Avocado Sweets. Together they offer a powerful package to help clients stand out from the crowd.
We sat down with Evros and Susie to get some tips on how to bring your band to life.
Tell us a bit about what Avocado Sweets and the team behind it?
We’re down-to-earth people and wanted to offer a comfortable experience for clients who speak the same language. Navigating your way through hiring an interior designer, branding company and PR agency that will work together for a common goal isn’t easy.
When clients come to Avocado Sweets, they know that, whether they chose every aspect of our work, or just one part, we’re working for their best interests from start to finish with a clear expectation of costs.
Evros is the design guru and combines his instinctive design eye, love of innovative materials and unusual products with a clear sense of what will work best in a space.
Susie leads on all things brand and PR, drawing on her significant media and marketing experience to understanding the makings of a great story and how to make yours stand out.
You’ve gained critical acclaim for your work with London restaurants including Barrio East, Poppies Fish & Chips and Little Saigon. Why have you been drawn to working with brands in hospitality?
Well, when you love food as much as we do, it was a pretty easy move into hospitality design. We’ve always been fascinated by what makes or breaks a new hospitality venture. Great food and service is generally a pre-requisite. But it’s the look and feel that make the difference in attracting and retaining customers. Unless your food is truly spectacular, a poorly designed restaurant is a real turn-off in London where competition is fierce.
It seems that the restaurant industry has to be bold and brave to stand out. How can other businesses take inspiration from the hospitality trade’s approach to branding?
It takes bravery to set up any business but being bold isn’t the only factor for a successful brand. The best hospitality brands are careful to match their branding and overall look and feel to their product and business plan. Your customer has to understand instantly from your shop sign outside what they can expect when they walk through the door.
It may sound obvious, but the first thing any business should do before embarking on a branding exercise is to hone their brief alongside their business plan. Having a clear vision and understanding of your customer experience and expectations of your service is key.
After that, work your unique angle for all it’s worth.
Avocado Sweets combines interior design, branding and public relations. Tell us how you fuse these together in your projects?
The real power behind a brand is its compelling and memorable story. That’s what makes a business stick in your mind.
At Avocado Sweets we have the story at the heart of our design. Some clients come with a clear sense of their story and others ask us to help them hone their initial ideas.
From the name and logo, through to the interior, it’s not enough to just look great. You have to be memorable. That’s where the PR comes in too. To be memorable you need to be known.
Susie’s worked with the media for 16 years now and generated stories in the whole range from Just 17 to Newsnight. To be good at selling-in a story you need to know it inside out and be totally credible. Being involved in every aspect of the brand and design means that we can quickly pull together the story for the press. The clients already know and trust us which makes the whole process efficient and effective.
Budgets can be tight for new and small businesses. Do you have any tips for how a brand can prioritise and budget for branding?
Having a professional brand should be non-negotiable for new and small businesses. You’ve got to punch above your weight and win trust when you’re competing with well-established organisations. Unless you or a friend is particularly skilled, knocking up a logo yourself is rarely a good idea. A branding agency should also bring a fresh eye to your concept and help you see the wood from the trees.
It’s becoming increasingly important for companies to create a happy and creative working environment for employees, both current and prospective. How can interior design help to achieve this?
It’s great that companies are taking design seriously. Staff deserve better than blue carpet tiles and drab walls! We spend so much time at work. Just as the best home design works for the needs of the people living there, so work-space design should have the functionality sorted as much as the aesthetics.
As with branding, putting a design together that fits your business needs, staff needs and incorporates light, texture and colour, into a visual feast, is an art. Investing properly in your workspace is likely to save you in the long-run as you attract the right people and keep them.
It can be challenging to know where to start or how to identify the resources needed to successfully build a brand. If you could offer three tips for starting the branding process, what would they be?
1) Create a unique, compelling story
2) Tell it with appropriate words and visuals
3) Keep telling it
How would this advice differ when given to the owner of an established business, looking to rebrand?
Re-brands generally happen when a company needs a re-fresh or is looking to turn around its fortunes. It can often be far harder to change an existing brand and embrace a new look. To help ease the process, our advice would be:
1) Be very clear about why you want to re-brand and keep coming back to this as you look at new concepts
2) Allow your designer the creative freedom to innovate on your behalf
3) Some people are very resistant to change. Think about your existing customers and staff and how you will take them with you as you evolve.
For more advice about starting your own business – from securing funding to managing a team – head over to the Net.Works. blog.