If you are familiar with The Penguin Brothers, then you know that they are experts on how to be bold with your brand. Two brothers, Brandon and Blake Barkdull, combined their passion for cookies and ice cream to build a business out of custom ice cream sandwiches. The brothers developed a brand with an eye-catching personality. They painted their food truck pink and created characters that highlight the “fun, weird, quirky, and surprising aspects” of their business.
The brothers admit that putting themselves out there as the main attraction for their business was never an idea that they were crazy about. “Business takes sacrifice if you are going to make it work,” Brandon said. “Thus, The Penguin Brothers were born out of necessity.” They wanted their business to stand out as more than just good food with Instagram-worthy photography. “We decided that we were going to take a different approach,” he said. “Trying something new was our first and most important step in being bold with our brand.”
Brandon explained how starting a business is full of ups and downs, with no money to go around. “To make a splash you either need money (and lots of it), or you need to be unique and noteworthy,” he said. They feel strongly that their exclusive branding approach was crucial to making it past the infancy cycle of their business. “Being bold was our way of having fun, while growing at the same time,” he said.
The growth and success of The Penguin Brothers, is a testament to the power of branding. Brandon has shared the following steps to provide inspiration on how to be bold with your brand:
- Think of being bold as calculated risks
You don’t need to be reckless with your company. These should be well-thought-out hypotheses with research to back them. We used all of our profits last year to open a store, instead of paying ourselves. We had no idea if the store would be successful, but we did know that a store would bring consistency to our business that the food truck would never guarantee. We knew it would legitimize us as a brand and take us from two college students in a truck, to a business with employees. Calculated risk.
- Timing is everything
Don’t wait! Opening our business in college was one of the best moves we made. It wasn’t easy and required lots of sacrifice of our time and head space, but was so worth it. The resources that BYU offers are very helpful. We had a solid network of people our age who could help our business along in its infancy. We were in a very low-risk phase of life where losing all of our savings wouldn’t be as big of a deal compared to later on when we had dependents.
- Don’t stress
These decisions aren’t life or death. Customers are forgiving. They understand you are new. In fact, they want to help. One decision will not kill your company, but indecision definitely will.
Brandon expressed that each risk comes with new challenges and lessons to be learned, but the first and hardest risk to take, is actually starting your business. “There is a lot of satisfaction in knowing that you were able to at least take that first step,” he said. “You become a part of a very small group, when you pay that hefty $75 to actually file and record your business name.”
Check out their website for catering information and their menu.
You can also follow along on Instagram for ice cream cookie sandwich cravings and more branding inspiration here: @thepenguinbrothers