case study of personal branding

Branding Deck for Cheers By Sandy

Background

Sandy Verma is a renowned name in India’s bar scene. He has over 30 years of experience in the field, having acted as bartender, mixologist, and sommelier; and later as an all-around bartending and party-planning expert. 

Sandy opened the Institute of Bar Operations and Management in 2005, which provides bartending courses and training to young people interested in making a career in this field. Since then, IBOM has been the most well-known bartending training institute in India. 

Since he started, Sandy has worked with, mentored and trained many people who have gone on to establish their own bartending schools, and made a name for themselves as experts in the field. 

In the thirty years that Sandy has been in this field, he has built up an enviable resume, worked with the biggest names in the hospitality industry all over the world, and organized many parties for many celebrity clients.

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The Problem Statement

Having gained experience and expertise in the hospitality field, and witnessed the evolution of the through almost three decades, Sandy was ready to share his knowledge and expertise with the world. He was ready to evolve.

He also sensed that the industry was ready for the next transition, and he wanted to evolve simultaneously. Many of his friends were asking him for advice on running their businesses, developing new experiences or new concept restaurants. He could identify the potential this implied for his brand and was ready to seize the opportunity. 

Sandy was also intrigued by how the millennial customers were shaping the industry with their demands. While the widespread belief was that the F&B sector had food as its central axis, Sandy could see that the scene was changing.

 Beverages were becoming the centrepiece for the crowd’s dining experience, and food was now serving a complimentary purpose. Being an expert on drinks, Sandy wanted to tap this opportunity.

Since he is a celebrity, he wanted to strengthen his brand and build it up by leveraging his fame. Sandy Verma wished to be more than a star- he wanted to be recognized as the expert that he was.  Not only did he have the knowledge and practical expertise in almost all facets of the F&B industry, his experience as a trainer at IBOM also factored into his confidence as a mentor.

Sandy felt that acting only as a mentor to aspiring bartenders was not enough- he needed to venture out. He wanted to share his knowledge and insights, but the possibility of doing that as a mentor at a school was limited.

In short, Sandy Verma wanted his brand to combine his vibrant, friendly personality and his skills and knowledge that defined him. 

He also wanted to expand his brand, take upon more projects and continue to be the global citizen that he is.

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Strategic Brand Analysis – The BrandLoom Process

BrandLoom’s task was to establish him as an authority in the field while preserving the spirit of his brand that was vital to his success. Our vision was to establish him as a consultant while also helping him expand the scope and scale of IBOM.
In order to do that, BrandLoom set forth a blueprint:

  1. Understanding the industry he is a part of

Today, India has a booming hospitality/food and beverage scene. However, it is also an immensely competitive field. We have seen newbies force heritage establishments to downsize, and also seen startups cannibalize each other. For every bar that opened, another downed their shutters.

2. Who needed the help?

Some groups wanted the help of an expert like Sandy:

    • Old, premium hotels that used to be the hotspots. Earlier, these were the hotels that had restaurants and discos which the young people frequented. With independent restaurants and discos blossoming in the last two decades, these establishments were seen as stuffy, old, irrelevant places reserved for weddings and corporate affairs.
    • New concept restaurants. These were the niched spaces that wanted to stand out. However, they were finding it difficult to distinguish themselves.
    • Struggling establishments. These were the ones that were having difficulties staying afloat, were losing their clientele, and needed a new lease of life. Often, they were hung up on outdated ideas and had problems managing their business effectively.
    • Overall, the urban Indian youth was eager to try out new flavors and offerings, and were looking for something different. They were ready to experiment with different types of momo, and wanted a good experience for an affordable price.

3. Understanding how Sandy Verma could help them

Sandy had seen the industry evolve. Having worked with various establishments, launched projects, catered events and trained the next generation of bartenders, Sandy had a thorough knowledge of the workings of all sorts of establishments. Having excellent soft skills, he also had a fair idea about what the customers wanted, and how their demands have changed over time.
In short, Sandy was uniquely positioned to emerge as the all-around hospitality and bar expert that Indian F&B sector was waiting for.

The Action Plan

  1. Conceptualizing Visual Identity for the Brand

BrandLoom understood what made Sandy unique. While his experience and expertise definitely counted, what set him apart was his personality and flair. While positioning him as an all-around expert in the field, we also wanted to underscore his strong suit- his knowledge and expertise in the bar scene. We also wanted to convey the vivacious, welcoming and fun side of his personality, which made him such a sought after figure in this field.

We wanted people to see him as not just a serious expert, but an expert who firmly had his thumb on the pulse of the sector.  Sandy Verma is an expert in understanding the customers and crafting unique offerings for them.  He knew how to keep them hooked and knew how to keep bringing them back.

In short, this was a man who could offer bespoke solutions. Be it the management or the customers; he always had the perfect recipe that would make them forget their worries.

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Cheers By Sandy : A Promise for the Hospitality Industry

Hence, Cheer By Sandy was born. It was a brand that conveyed the right spirit of the brand and the man behind it. Cheers By Sandy stood for the spirit of hospitality and evoked a sense of welcome. It was a brand that wanted to raise a toast to success and wanted everyone to have a good time. 

Cheers By Sandy was about creating those good times for both stakeholders and customers. It was a salute to the road that Sandy had covered, and a good luck wish for what lay ahead for him and his clients. 

The first step in this process was to design the logo that captured the essence of the brand. It was a no brainer that the visual aspects of his brand had to convey the vivacious nature of his personality. It was to be youthful, eye-catching and had to show him in his element- confident and welcoming.

And of course, as a brand, Cheers By Sandy was going to help its clients make a splash in the sector.

Since this was a personal, celebrity-centric brand, we decided to keep Sandy at the centre of the logo. He was shown in a dapper suit ala James Bond- exuding the suave personality that set him apart from the rest.

In his hand, he is shown holding a glass of Campari- a brand that represents sophistication and exclusivity. The bright pink colour perfectly ties in with his vivacious personality and underscores that at its heart, Cheers By Sandy is a vibrant, lively brand that presents a consultant, unlike the others. 

2. Digital branding for Cheers By Sandy

BrandLoom started by building a website for Sandy Verma. The site not only talked about his skills, experience and expertise but also tied in with IBOM- the bartending school that he established.

However, unlike IBOM, Cheers By Sandy was focused on expanding his brand from merely a barwizard to an all-around hospitality consultant. The website talked about the importance of hotel, restaurant and hospitality consultants and what they do; and spoke about how Sandy Verma could provide consultancy services to establishments in all stages of their life cycle. 

Simultaneously, a social media campaign was launched, which talked about how Sandy was an expert in the field who could offer all-round solutions to those in need. On social media, we also highlighted some of the most prestigious projects he had been associated with- which showed his versatility and established his credentials. We also showcased numerous events and parties that he had catered and organized, which showed that he was comfortable in private settings as in hospitality establishments.

At the same time, the social media campaign also highlighted the man who was the brand himself. We showcased him as a traveller, a person who was the life of every party, and someone who ensured that everyone enjoyed themselves. 

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3.Value proposition for the clients – creating a pitch

To approach his prospective clients, Sandy needed a compelling pitch. We created a pitch that highlighted his resume and highlighted his skills. In the pitch, we outlined the problems that the sector was facing- the issues his clients were most likely to face and relate to.

That being done, we talked about Sandy Verma was uniquely positioned to help them achieve their goals and strengthen their business. This presented Sandy as a person with expertise, skills and experience- as someone who inspired confidence as a consultant.

By strengthening Sandy’ position, Cheers By Sandy also had a solid leg to assert itself as a brand.

Establishing The Brand

BrandLoom envisioned Cheers By Sandy to be an extension of Sandy’s personality. Being a celebrity in his field, he already had widespread name recognition. We wanted to preserve that sense of recall and add another dimension to it.  

Our branding exercise established him as an expert in the field but also highlighted how his personality made him a one-of-kind figure in the scene. Cheers By Sandy was the next step in his brand evolution- from a maverick, celebrity party guy; he was transitioning into an all-around expert in the hospitality sector. 

BrandLoom captured this transition via Cheers By Sandy, which established him as a consultant like no other. 

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For me, every day is unique. Design is everywhere around me to influence me. What I enjoy is converting something complicated into something very simple that catches the eye and quickly registers in mind. My job is to take the vision of the client and bring it to life using visual communication. It is about creative exploration, thinking through ideas, and coming up with a visual solution that makes it exciting for me to work in this field.