Entrepreneurship 101: Clarifying & Branding Your Niche

I am currently working with some young entrepreneurs who are carving out a niche for their start up venture in the emerging eco-friendly healthy eating space growing in popularity with more and more millennials. Eco-friendly restaurants offering locally grown healthy foods are also reacting to this trend and opening across the country to accommodate these like minded millennials.

I met the founder, Matt Cristaldi, at the Stevens Institute of Technology – Venture Center, where I am an Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Matt was giving a pitch on his concept of developing an App to allow millennials to find restaurants that were compatible with their eco-friendly healthy foods desires. However, the brand name he selected – Ribbit, smacked of a sound a frog would make?

So I asked Matt, “What is a Ribbit?”

That started us down a path that many start up’s and small businesses are faced with these days – developing a clear brand name and identity. Given that we are now living in a social media marketplace it is imperative that the unique value proposition of any brand is clear, concise, and engaging. Otherwise the initial emotional value of the brand will be lost in the blink of an eye.

I explained to Matt that our initial challenge would be to create a logo that is reflective of the brand value concept along with a “tag line” that is clear and motivating. I used the Walmart tag line as an example: “Live better, spend less.”

You can’t get much simpler and clearer than that.

Exploring logo design options with Matt we came up with two symbols of eco-friendly healthy eating. The first was a green leaf symbolizing the environment, and the second was a fork symbolizing “eating”. Matt took those to a graphic design studio that developed a logo of a green leaf with a fork design in the middle of the leaf. Pretty simple, but elegant at the same time.

Then I asked Matt to think about a tag line by writing down all the words that could be associated with his unique value proposition. After a number of iterations he selected: “Sustainable Dining – Made Easy.”

So now we had the essence of what was needed to clarify the Ribbit brand name from something relative to a frog sound to an eco-friendly healthy eating concept. This is basically what Steve Jobs had to do to transition his initial “Apple” logo which came from an apple orchid across the street from where he lived to the brand name for a personal computer. Schultz also had to do this with the Starbuck’s logo.

With this accomplished we moved on to explain that Matt’s millennials were “Ribbiter’s” and they could find eco-friendly healthy food restaurants on his his site: www.ribbit.io

If you go to the site you can see the logo, tag line, and information on the concept. Matt is now on his way to signing up more Ribbiter’s and restaurants every week, while developing more software, and pitching his concept to interested investors. You may want to become a Ribbitter, or if you are an eco-friendly healthy foods restaurant owner contacting Matt to become part of his network so that his growing number of Ribbitters can find your place to eat.

If you need help clarifying your brand identity let me know.

Robert M. Donnelly is an author, educator and brand builder for businesses and individuals. His consultancy business is called DoctorBusiness.com. His corporate life was spent in executive positions with IBM, Pfizer and EXXON and then as the CEO for several U.S. subsidiaries of foreign multinational firms. Professor Donnelly is on the faculty of Saint Peters University as well as Rushmore University, a global online university. His latest book is Personal Brand Planning for Life, available on Amazon. He also functions as an interim executive. You can contact him at rmdonnelly@aol.com or visit his website at DoctorBusiness.com.