Whether you’re an executive chef, culinary educator or food truck owner, developing your brand will get the public and potential employers interested in the work you do. By showing what makes you unique as a chef, you can raise your professional profile and connect with members of your community. The following are seven ways that you can successfully create and build your brand.
Show your personality. As much as people may love your cooking, that can’t be the sole basis for your brand. You have to show the public what makes you special — your sense of humor, your hobbies, your personal story. Present yourself as a full person and people will become interested in knowing more about your work.
Don’t hide your flaws. We all have things about ourselves that make us feel insecure, but these are also the things that other people may find endearing about us. No one can really relate to perfection, so it’s important to be as authentic as possible — flaws and all. This will help you build a deeper connection with your audience.
Develop yourself before you develop your brand. According to Elizabeth Blau, Las Vegas-based restaurateur, founder and CEO of Blau + Associates, you can’t create a brand until you know who you are. “The best in the business are those who live the meaning and value behind their brand. Define your style, define who you are as a human, a chef and a leader, and define your intentions and your goals,” she says. “Having an unwavering foundation on who you are and what you want will guide the inherent direction of your brand. Promoting a brand and a human before they are ready can be catastrophic.”
Show off your skills in public. No matter what area of the culinary profession you’re in, you should take advantage of opportunities to show off your cooking skills in public. Doing demonstrations at charity events, local talk shows and farmers markets can boost your brand by illustrating what you can do in the kitchen and who you are as a person.
Increase visibility through writing. Cookbooks, newspaper columns and blogs are another avenue that you can use to raise your profile as a chef and connect to the people in your community. If writing is not your strong suit or you simply don’t have the time to focus on it, you can always work with a ghostwriter who will put your ideas on the page for you.
Be consistent with social media. Keeping your audience updated about what’s going on with you will keep them engaged and interested in your work. Also, your followers can act as your brand ambassadors because they will share interesting posts and help you expand your reach on your social media platforms.
Stick to what you’re used to. Although it’s good for chefs to be creative and innovative, in order to stay true to your brand, it’s important not to overdo it. “I’ve seen many chefs open a second restaurant that is not consistent with the chef’s skills or reputation,” says Alex Benes, culinary director of Wood Ranch in Southern California. “I completely appreciate wanting to do something new, and I think most good chefs can execute just about any kind of cuisine, but your brand is your business. Very few chefs can pull off different cuisines successfully enough to sustain a restaurant.”