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Coffee, burritos, and birthdays: Brand management and why you should be doing it

Filed in Tips, Tricks, and Things to Know — September 6, 2023

I love Wawa.

For those of you not in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., Wawa is a convenience store chain that is part coffee shop, part fast food joint, part gas station, and 100% part of the fabric of life. It is the home of the annual Hoagie Fest, the originator of the Schwarbomb (#GoPhils!), and brewer of the best coffee anywhere.

Now, where I live, we have a growing convergence of 3 local convenience-store-and-gas-station brands: Wawa, Royal Farms, and (soon) Sheetz. Stand in my yard, throw a stone, and you’re likely to hit one of them. But no matter how many Royal Farms and Sheetz stores that pop up in my neighborhood, I will always be a Wawa fan.


Because every time someone mentions Wawa, I remember the time Miss TeeTee, who ran the morning register, had the whole store sing me “Happy Birthday.” Or that Deb, who managed the coffee station, made sure my favorite coffee was always available when I would stop in each morning. You mention Wawa, and I can taste my go-to breakfast burrito (egg white with spinach, caramelized onions, and chipotle sauce) and smell their holiday blend coffee.

And no experience I have ever had at Royal Farms and Sheetz can compare to the way Wawa makes me feel when I think of it.

That, my friends, is the markings of a good brand and great brand management.

You see, a good brand is one that evokes emotion and feeling when the company is mentioned. It makes you want to go and spend money with that brand (much the way I want to go in and buy a coffee every time I pass a Wawa – just ask my husband), and it elicits a feeling of loyalty to that company.

And whether you know it or not, your company has a brand, too. It’s impacted by a whole host of factors that occur each and every day. So, how should you, the small businessperson, handle brand management?

Here are a few suggestions:

Be consistent in how you show up

This means that once you’ve established your business name and your logo, take some time to also come up with your color palette and the fonts you’re going to use. Those colors and fonts should flow through your website, your social media content, and your marketing, and people will begin to associate them with you when they see them.

When your brand shows up consistently, it tells potential customers that you pay attention to detail and elicits a feeling of stability.

Customer service is everything

Now, I’m not going to tell you, “The customer is always right,” because they aren’t, and you never have to accept poor behavior from anyone. However, how you and your staff treat your customers and potential customers is a huge part of your brand. That means treating your customers with care, being consistent (yes, that word again) in how you communicate with the public, and making a good impression every time you interact with the public are all brand-building activities.

Don’t forget your digital presence

You don’t necessarily have to have a website, but you should have an online presence where people can find information about you and your company. This could be as simple as building an account for your brand on various social media platforms and posting regular content there. A lack of any digital presence may send the message to customers that you aren’t a “reputable” organization or that you are “out of touch” – neither of which is a good reflection on your brand.

In addition, if you have claimed your company’s domain name and don’t have a website built yet, don’t use that domain name in your marketing – and that includes posting it in your social media profiles. Sending potential customers to a web hosting site with nothing on it may make them wonder if you’re a legitimate business and could potentially scare them away.

Capitalize on your good reviews

Customer testimonials and reviews are incredibly important to spreading the word of your brand. Having your customers review your business either on social media or via platforms like Google or Yelp can help get the word out about your awesome customer service and fantastic products. Don’t be afraid to take those great reviews and repost them on social media, either. Reinforcing those things that people like about your company through customer testimonials helps to tell your brand’s story in a relatable fashion.

Remember that your brand isn’t just your logo – it’s how your customers feel when they think of doing business with you. Just like the mention of Wawa makes me crave coffee and the world’s best breakfast burrito, mentioning your company’s name to your customer base should evoke good thoughts of your products or services. And that type of response comes from how you show up for your customers every time they interact with you – in person, on the phone, in emails, or online.

If you have questions about brand management or want help on a brand refresh, drop me a note. I’d love to talk!