The Purple Cow: A Guest Post by Charlotte White

“Well, it doesn’t really have anything to do with cake. Shouldn’t it be something a bit more ‘cakey’?” he said.  I was really excited to be sat in my first proper ‘grown-up’ business meeting, up until this moment.

It was my first year as Restoration Cake and I was trying to get to grips with the concept of charging strangers for my creations. The afternoon was to be spent with a colleague who knew all the financial stuff. I went to the meeting with a website, a Twitter account, a growing list of orders, and a name.

“Restoration doesn’t really say ‘cake’,” he said.

The name Restoration Cake came to me in early 2009, as I sat at my dressing table (yes, I am totally spoilt) putting on my make-up to go to work in an office I absolutely hated. My boss didn’t like me and didn’t really attempt to hide this fact. I had just bought a house with the man I love and there was also this big thing looming called a ‘recession’ so I kept calm and I carried on.

Photography Credit: Sacco & Sacco Photography

I spent a lot of time daydreaming and, as I applied another coat of mascara, I looked at my bookshelf laden with history books and thought about how awesome the Restoration was. I have studied various aspects of 17th Century History from the age of 18 and am always collecting new books to read on the subject. For me, the Restoration was the moment that the world went from brown to rainbow colours and an age of oppression, puritanism and general dullness came to an end. Probably doesn’t take an awful lot of pop psychology to figure this lot out!

So while the word ‘Restoration’ may have very little to signify ‘cake’ in itself, it speaks volumes about the cake maker.

“How about ‘Charlotte’s Cakes’ or what about ‘RocknRoll Cakes’, you love RocknRoll!” he said.

I cringed.

Photography Credit: Lisa Jane Photography

Kat has discussed the issue of putting your own personality into your business many times before and I cannot express how strongly I feel about the absolute necessity for any entrepreneur to put their personality 100% at the centre of any enterprise. The beauty of a small brand that is built around an individual is that it becomes easier for clients to relate to and easier for the business owner to keep authentic. I’m not a big corporation with a mission statement, drawn up by men in suits; I would hate that. These days more than ever, brides & groom’s value the personal touch, the attention to detail and the individual attention they receive from small businesses like mine and yours. Unless you’re Starbucks or McDonalds, your business should be a reflection of you – your hopes, dreams, beliefs and eccentricities. Never forget that. It is what will make out stand out from the crowd. And that crowd is getting bigger everyday.

You need to love what you do, right? If you are going to work for yourself, it is going to be a truckload of hard work (believe me, I know) so if your heart is not in it, you will probably just give up. Chances are that there will be other companies offering similar products and services to you. They may even be undercutting you on price. So how do you set your company apart? How can you differentiate your company to convince clients to book you over the cheaper guys down the road? Well why not try being yourself? Use your individuality and build your brand identity around it. There’s no one else like you just like there should be no one else with a business quite like yours.

Photography Credit: We Heart Pictures

For example, I am a massive history geek and I have a portrait of King Charles II in my downstairs bathroom. At the same time, I am a bass-playing rock chick type and have wanted to be Marilyn Monroe since childhood. You try and bring this all together into a brand! It’s impossible unless the brand is essentially one person who incorporates all of the above. It sounds like a weird combo but it works because it’s me.

This was rather beautifully illustrated to me by a friend who told me that, in business, you need to be the purple cow…

Imagine that you are on a train, travelling at high speed through the countryside. You will pass a field of cows and another field of cows and another. You will probably find it hard to tell one cow from another or even see one cow individually in the herd. Now imagine that one of the cows was purple. You would spot that one. You might even do a double-take and want to go back for another look. You would certainly remember it.

In business, it is essential to make yourself stand apart from your competition in order to be noticed. Be the purple cow. Be yourself because no-one else can do this.

Photography Credit: Lisa Jane Photography

So I resisted the calls for a change in my company name because it is my name. It exists as a little call to arms for anyone who, like me, just wants to be that crazy little person that they really are.

No I won’t be naming my company after any part of a posh house, anything French, any flowers, any small birds or insects, or anything massively girly sounding because none of this appeals to me at all. Besides, I love it when people ask me about the name because it means that I get to bore the pants off them for at least five minutes explaining it!

Thanks for listening! Now go and be the purple cow.

About the Author

Charlotte White is the cake queen behind Restoration Cake. She specialises in non-dairy and vegan wedding cakes and cupcakes but loves to get her teeth into anything. She has a penchant for wedding cakes with a flair for the dramatic. She teaches regularly at The Make Lounge and is a regular contributor to Vintage Life Magazine and Unique Bride Magazine. She is based in the South of England but will travel nationwide to deliver her delicious creations. She can be contacted via email on info@restorationcake.co.uk.

11 comments

  1. I LOVE the name Restoration Cake – even without the explanation it’s always felt so ‘you’, which is exactly the point you make!

    I’m guessing the person who didn’t ‘get’ your name probably didn’t ‘get’ your brand either – which is fine because the whole point of you being your brand is to attract people who like and understand the same things as you because like-minded people are most likely to be happy with your product/service. (Jasmine Star said this and it’s always stuck with me!)

    Thanks for an excellent post Charlotte – and the equally-excellent ‘purple cow’ advice! xxx

  2. Totally agree and until now I had never even thought it was an odd name for your company… it just seems right.. like all good brands. Now I want some cake :-/

  3. MrsSpoon

    Excellent post and thank you thank you thank you. I’ve literally just put my tools down for a quick lunch and saw this.

    I’ve recently thought of a name for my little venture and was having real doubts about it so had thought of an alternative. I don’t love the alternative its just not me so I’m going to stick with the name I love. Its long and a real mouthful but its definately me and definately a purple cow – the cow may even have pink spots too :oD

    Now, I’m off to crank the blow torch back up with a happy smile on my face!

  4. I love your company name! From the moment I met you I knew Restoration cake was YOUR name!
    I also feel it’s very much about the fact that you make non-dairy and vegan cakes, not many people try to do this. You bring a new era of wedding cakes!
    And it’s not easy, making a vegan cake work… gosh I know that by experience!
    We shouldn’t waste our time on people who don’t understand -or don’t want to understand- what we are doing or trying to achieve. We don’t need the negativism. And frankly I think the guy who didn’t get your name wasn’t very creative!
    Keep on baking that cake lady! xxx

  5. I agree,, your name is cool and works for you…lol some people :-S, great read charlotte, many many things make lots of sense! x

  6. You rock lady!!! This article is so true and rings so many bells with me. In the early days I had some negative feedback on a forum about my company name. The comment went along the lines of “I wouldn’t want my photography done by a company called Assassynation”….why? I don’t stamp it all over their pics!

    I decided that I wanted to be me….and Assassynation summed up everything I wanted to convey, yes people find it odd but hell the people who are ‘my kinda customers’ get it and love it….and that’s all that matters.

    It’s exactly the same for you, the people that need to get it do and the others….well they’re not important. You are so right though…..as an ex Marketing Manager (don’t shoot me) I know that having a strong brand and identity is key…..you have that! Keep it up girlfriend!!

  7. RachyLou

    Aww, Charlotte, lovely post! One of the things Aaron and I LOVED about you was your company name, the fact you had some depth behind you rather than a girly-sounding, frothy, cakey name!
    You are incredibly talented at what you do which obviously helps, but something that attracted us to you as potential customers was your personal style and obvious love for the 40s, your rock n roll-ness AND your friendly, welcoming personality! Big companies just don’t have that.

    You have a fan and friend for life here, it’s such a pleasure to see you go from strength to strength, so keep doing what you’re doing because nobody else can do it like you :) xo

  8. Aw, you guys! Thank you so much to each and every one of you for your lovely words.

    I feel very blessed to work in this amazing industry with so many wonderful creative women and to have the pleasure of working with such fabulous brides.

    Mwah!

    Cxx

    *slightly misty-eyed right now… something in my eye… ahem*

  9. Ha ha, a purple cow, I like it.

    Great post Charlotte, well done for sticking with what makes your business unique, I couldn’t agree more with every word.

  10. The companies that stand out are the ones that ‘live the brand’ and you do that so well, you really are the embodiment of Restoration Cake. Quite frankly the only other name that may have even possibly worked is F***ing Awesome Cakes.

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