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Ask the Expert - How to enhance your brand by creative use of Food and Drink

Edinburgh based Hickory is an award winning caterer and event producer and features as part of the catering panel at three UVE venues – Assembly Rooms, Merchant’s Hall and Gilmerton House.  The company also offers a premium pop up bar service called Hickory Bars.  Here, Hickory’s Marketing Director Stephanie Stubbs talks about how you can enhance your brand by the creative use of food & drink.

Be true to your brand

Always try to be true to what you’re brand is and ensure that everyone in the business understands and works to enhance your brand.  For us, that’s not being overly gimmicky, offering up quality produce and fitting with Hickory’s brand statement – contemporary catering for the connoisseur.

From the ingredients we put on the plate to the garnishes we serve in a glass – every little detail is planned and considered by our Development Chef or Bar Development Manager to fit with Hickory’s brand proposition. We have attracted and nurtured a talented and creative team who all understand our brand values and

work hard to enhance them at each point of the customer journey.


Be innovative

In order to stand out from the competition, it’s important to always be innovating.

When we joined the catering panel for the Assembly Rooms earlier this year, we created five unique conference catering concepts to engage with the target audience: Conference Classic, Conference Contemporary, Conference Supreme, Conference Vitality and Conference Connect.

Conference Vitality is designed to keep conference guests’ brains fuelled and engaged until the meeting closes with healthy and nutritious food, whereas the Conference Connect concept introduces market style street food stalls within the venue to encourage guests to connect with the food and with each other.


Know your customer

You should never forget the importance of creating memories and enhancing your reputation. We help our clients do this by providing totally bespoke menus based on their requirements, not just using packages. This helps to create a unique experience, which enhances both of our brands.

We love helping clients to think outside of the box and recently ran an event in conjunction with O’Leary PR and tHe Haymarket Edinburgh Development. The event was to mark a major milestone in the project and we created a construction zone for guests; a food area thought up by our talented Event Planners and Development Chef. We had Tonka Trucks circulated with canapes, served by the Hickory team dressed in branded boiler suits. We also served foot long cheese straws served in drainpipes, cement mixer fruit bowls and other delicious goodies. Of course, we had a fuelling station for drinks too.


Think local

The local thing isn’t just a trend that you can get on and off – if you’re not already on it, you need to be. For us, it needs to be engrained in everything we do.  Our creative and sustainable food proposition is heavily weighted toward Scottish provenance, with a particular focus on the Lothians. Our chefs are committed to creating unique flavour combinations and textures with a nod to ingredients that are grown locally (our chefs are known to nip down to the river Esk to forage some wild ingredients).

This philosophy also filters down to the drinks we serve with Hickory Bars. When we launched our Hickory Bars proposition at the Royal Highland Show earlier this year, our marketing team worked closely with our talented bars team to develop a menu which featured 13 Scottish gin brands all perfectly served with the right garnish and mixer to bring out the best in the flavour of the gin. This menu presented our understanding of flavour and our commitment to Scottish ingredients during our first exposure to the world – both important for positioning the brand.


Invest in quality marketing collateral and content

Stand apart from your competitors by using use excellent food and drink imagery to represent your offer.

We invest a lot of time and energy in creating beautiful marketing materials and engaging content.  When we join a new venue, either as a standalone caterer or within a catering panel, we create bespoke menus with bold and beautiful designs.  After all, it’s the food imagery that will help to represent our brand during the decision making process.