April 15th, 2018 - Brand

Build a BRAND not a business

Get ready to roll out the red carpet for your premium customers

That red carpet? It’s the difference between having a business or a brand. 

Today, I’m introducing a blog series that unlocks the secrets to attracting your premium customers. Plenty of businesses offer a premium product or service, but they’re not brands. 

A brand provides an experience, rolling out the red carpet for clients with the moxie to show up. And that’s just the beginning. From that first encounter with a brand – no matter how brief – you sense it. Everything feels deliberate, thoughtful, intentional. 

Customers know a brand experience is worth more. And the right ones are eager to pay for that experience because it’s that experience that assures them you are the best and they’ll be well taken care of on their journey with you.

Let’s get started. I’m kicking off this special series by talking about how a brand experience sets you apart from the competition and drives ROI. 

Build a BRAND not a business

What makes a brand different from a business? Think about the difference between buying a Top Shop bag at The Bay and buying a Birkin from the Hermès flagship store in Paris. (If bags aren’t your thing, simply imagine that I’m talking cars. Contemplate the difference between visiting Ford and Ferrari.) 

At The Bay, there’s chaos – walls and shelves are jammed full of different styles, fabrics and colors from a variety of brands that are almost indistinguishable in the jumble. 

When you find a bag you want, you likely won’t locate an employee to help you with it, so you wander to find a line up and wait to pay. When you ring out, you may have coupons that bring down the price and then a haggard, unfriendly cashier will cram it into a plastic bag, and send you on your way. You’ll likely be sporting a headache by this time from all muzak that’s been playing a low-medium volume the entire time.

Now imagine buying the Hermès. You walk through the heavy doors into an oasis of calm. Perfect lighting, each item displayed like a work of art, employees speaking in hushed tones ready to serve your every whim. Even the smells are captivating. Luxury experiences stimulate all the senses in a magical way, instilling calm and wonder – not overwhelm and anger. 

The Bay is a business. It sells standard products for mid-range prices. They have a few staff about for security and payment purposes but you’re pretty much on your own. You pay for the product and that’s the end of the transaction.

Hermès is a brand. Walk into a store and they’ll give you an experience where every last detail has been choreographed to perfection.

The power of experience

A brand is the sum of every experience a person has with your company. 

Sadly, too many business owners are naive when it comes to understanding the importance of that experience. 

A brand experience only starts with the colours, logo and look of your website, signage and storefront. It extends to every single interaction a client or potential client has with you and your staff.  

Let me give you an example. I recently stopped frequenting a busy nail salon where I could get a good manicure done for a decent price. I decided to look elsewhere because the experience left me feeling harried and unappreciated. If I was taking the time to indulge, I wanted to feel indulged and a bit decadent … even if it cost more money. 

The smallest of your customer’s experiences can set you apart and differentiate you from your competitors, allowing you to not only gain market share but to also charge a premium while doing it. 

Over the past several months, I’ve been honoured to speak to entrepreneur groups here at home and online about the value of brand. I’ve connected with people around the world through podcasts, YouTube guest spots and Facebook lives sharing my thoughts on how transforming your business into a brand and upping your customer experience game has big pay offs. 

The response has been overwhelming and I’m grateful to be helping so many people. Today, I’m answering the call for more and announcing that registration is now open for my spring session of my new mentorship program.  


So much more than a course, this mentorship program will change the way you look at your business. And I’ll be with you in a private Facebook group every step of the eight weeks, offering guidance and encouragement. 

With gratitude,

Shannon Larkins

Shannon Larkins

Founder, Blackcoffee Studio

Over the course of 15+ years, Shannon has grown Blackcoffee Studio out of a love for building brands and reputations. She serves up Blackcoffee as a morning ritual while caffeinating clients and readers on the regular. You can find her at www.BlackcoffeeStudio.com


Blackcoffee Studio

Blackcoffee is a premium brand development agency, offering luxury brand experience to clients at home in Calgary, Canada and around the globe. Brands create experience, set you apart from the competition and drive growth. Anyone can bulid a business but only the exceptional can create a brand. Are you ready?

Shannon Larkins

Shannon Larkins

Hi I’m Shannon, founder of Blackcoffee Studio. A former reporter, spin doctor and politico, I now focus on using my powers for good.

I create mighty brands for clients and share their stories with the world. I’m also rather addicted to my nutty family, dogs with pushed in faces, Mexico and of course coffee … black.