One of the key considerations of marketing coffee is branding. In this article we will explore coffee branding and how to create a successful coffee brand.
When we talk about branding, whether it's a coffee shop or just coffee beans, we consider everything from the name of the coffee, the logo, the packaging and even the way it's advertised. All of these factors work together to create a certain image or identity for the coffee.
A good brand will have a clear identity and message that is conveyed consistently across all of its marketing materials.
Coffee branding can be a complex task, but if done correctly it can make a big difference to the success of your coffee business.
Start with the Customer
When you're starting to think about branding your coffee, it's important to keep your target customer in mind. What kind of people are you trying to reach with your coffee?
Your target customer will dictate the type of branding you choose for your coffee. For example, if you're targeting young professionals, you'll want to create a brand that is modern and stylish.
However, if you're targeting coffee aficionados, you'll want to create a brand that conveys quality and sophistication.
Think about the overall look and feel you want your coffee brand to have, and then work backwards from there to choose the right name, logo, packaging and so on.
How Do I Decide Who to Target?
Determining the target customer for your branding is an important step, but it can be a difficult one. There are a few key questions you should ask yourself when trying to decide who to target:
- What type of coffee do I produce?
- What is the price point of my coffee?
- Where will my coffee be sold?
- Who is my competition?
The type of coffee you produce will likely influence both your target customer definition as well as your branding efforts. For instance, if you produce specialty coffee, you'll want to target coffee aficionados and use branding that reflects quality and sophistication.
Alternatively, if you produce more mass-market coffee, you'll want to target a wider audience and use branding that is more accessible.
Your coffee's price point is also an important factor to consider when determining your target customer. Generally speaking, the higher the price point, the narrower your target customer will be.
This is because people who are willing to spend more on coffee tend to be more discerning and have specific tastes. As a result, they're also more likely to be influenced by branding that reflects quality and sophistication.
On the other hand, people who are less willing to spend on coffee tend to be more price-sensitive and less influenced by branding.
Finally, where you sell your coffee will also play a role in determining your target customer. For instance, if you sell your coffee online, you'll likely have a wider reach than if you only sell it in specialty stores.
If you sell your coffee in specialty stores, you'll want to use branding that reflects the quality of your coffee. However, if you sell your coffee in mass-market outlets, you'll want to use branding that is more accessible and less likely to turn off potential customers.
Why Launch a Brand Instead of a Business?
The difference between launching a brand and launching a business is that a brand takes more foresight and planning but ultimately builds equity in the eyes of customers.
Launching a brand means being prepared, when the resources are available, to know what tools to use and what to say to market your company in a way that makes it disctinct from the competition.
Going through a proper exercise to plan and develop your coffee brand would include thinking about and defining (at least on paper) many of these considerations:
- The Brand Identity.
- The Brand "Personality".
- The Logos and Design of the website, the packaging, and the advertising.
- The communications and processes required to distinguish the coffee business from its competition and the foster brand loyalty.
To put it more simply, your coffee brand is your promise to current and future customers of what your company and coffee will deliver.
If you're able to know what those promises are and deliver on them consistently you can build something called Brand Equity.
More on Brand Equity
Brand equity refers to the value of the brand, as determined by how it's seen by current and potential customers.
The idea is that a well known brand (well known in the sense that its promises are well understood) can generate customer growth and customer loyalty through brand recognition. Therefor the brand in and of itself has worth.
A good coffee brand will serve as a critical marker for customers evaluating the quality of a coffee, especially one they haven't previously tried.
Not only that, by a brand can also make customers more or less likely to pay a given price for the coffee, independant of the type or quality.
A fantastic exemple of a company that builds and leverages brand equity effectively is Starbucks. As explained by this case analysis:
"Starbuck’s brand equity is built on selling the finest quality coffee and related products, and by providing each customer a unique “Starbucks Experience”, which is derived from supreme customer service, clean and well-maintained stores that reflect the culture of the communities in which they operate."
"Starbucks effectively leverages its rich brand equity by merchandizing products, licensing its brand logo out. "
Deliberately thought out processes and consistent delivery on them can be a significant help to any business.
Decide What the Brand Will Do Well
To continue our previous "Decaf" example, let's say we're selling our after supper coffee. A decaf coffee isn't particularly exceptional, so the focus will have to be on quality. A great tasting decaf coffee, with flavour notes that work well with accompanying dishes, ideally something sweet like a dessert, is the selling point.
So the coffee brand will choose to invest primarily in making that after supper experience / desert coffee happen. Sparing no expense when it comes to sourcing quality coffee beans that are carefully roasted and consistently produce a coffee that is textures and sweet.
Any work or investment that support this aim is non-negotiable. Corners can be cut elsewhere, but the coffee has to consistently deliver the promise of great quality and sweetness.
Moreover, when it comes to marketing or talking about the brand the focus should always be on the above elements. The first thing, and sometimes the only thing, you would say about the coffee is that it provides a fantastic after support experience without keeping you up at night. Everything else comes secondary.
Decide What the Brand Won't Do Well
As Michael Porter says, "The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do".
It's important to decide in advance what the brand and product will not do well. This can be harder than it seems. You will at some point be tempted, often repeatedly, so design your product so that it appeals to a broader market.
Porter elaborates on his famous thought by using Southwest Airlines as an example:
“Southwest’s rapid gate turnaround, which allows frequent departures and greater use of aircraft, is essential to its high-convenience, low-cost positioning. But how does Southwest achieve it? Part of the answer lies in the company’s well-paid gate and ground crews, whose productivity in turnarounds is enhanced by flexible union rules. But the bigger part of the answer lies in how Southwest performs other activities. With no meals, no seat assignment, and no interline baggage transfers, Southwest avoids having to perform activities that slow down other airlines. It selects airports and routes to avoid congestion that introduces delays. Southwest’s strict limits on the type and length of routes make standardized aircraft possible: every aircraft Southwest turns is a Boeing 737.
What is Southwest’s core competence? Its key success factors? The correct answer is that everything matters. Southwest’s strategy involves a whole system of activities, not a collection of parts. Its competitive advantage comes from the way its activities fit and reinforce one another.”
For instance, let's say everybody loves your decaf coffee. So you start to recieve emails from customers asking when you will make a similar quality coffee that's fully caffeinated. It might be very tempting to look into that, especially since your current customer base has indicated interest.
Moreover, you might think "Well, if I don't provide this they will go somewhere else to get it - why shouldn't I be the one to get that business?".
But what might end up happening is that you launch a new caffeinated coffee, and suddenly find yourself competing in a whole new landscape. Additional time, effort, and money will need to be put into finding a source of wholesale coffee that meets your previously set standards for quality, going back and forth to refine the roast and taste, and then ultimately promoting this new type of product.
Whatever marketing materials, online promotion etc.. that you have established (and paid for) will now have to be further changed to incorporate your new product.
You were once the "Decaf Coffee" master, so a lot of work will have to go into becoming something more/different.
Not only that - but you image as an expert in after supper coffee experiences likely took a while to really take hold in the minds of consumers. Now that you are diversifying away from decaf exclusively, will that same perception of your brand and producs still exists? What will it cost to win that back?
If that's not enough, you also have to appreciate that the decision means you are now competing with other coffee providers and many of them have chosen to focus on one single specialty.
So now you're no longer taking advantage of your strength and are at a disadvantage competing against competitors who are 100% geared to mastering and selling caffeinated specialty coffee. That's not a position you want to find yourself in, unless you're very certain it's worthwhile.
Define The Brand Image
The brand image should reflect the exact aspect of your coffee brand that distinguishes it from competitors. The image is important, not only to inform your marketing materials but to inform customers who may have never tried your coffee what the coffee is really "about", particularly in cases where you're selling online and people don't have a chance to try before they buy.
Continuing with the After Supper Decaf example, the brand image in this case would support the underlying specialty. Quality decaf, made to drink as a digestif.
The name, logo, and even any colours used on the website or packaging should reflect the value and purpose of the coffee, distinguising it in the market.
The product photos, as previously mentioned, should also take into consideration the brand image and positioning.
All these aspects of the coffee should be made to communicate and call attention to the fact that this coffee is high-quality, specialty coffee that is typically consumed in the evening. Calm, dark colours would make sense. In fact anything that positions the taste of the coffee well ahead of typical attributes (like high energy and wakefullness) would be advisable.
To develop your brand personality you need to think about the more "human" traits and attributes your coffee and coffee business has (or will have). This above all will help you using your brand to differentiate the business from the competition.
Jennifer Aaker formalized the most widely used model for developing brand personality.
She said that brand personality could be developed across five dimensions:
The idea is to shape the brand personality in a way that reflects your target customers.
A perfect example of how this is done for a coffee enterprise is "DeathWish Coffee". Self proclaimed as "the world's strongest coffee" Death Wish Coffee uses deliberate imagery, color palettes, and typography communicte their personality and appeal to those with an affinity for Ruggedness. If Death Wish Coffee was a person, they would certainly be more Rugged than Sophisticated:
Brand personality, as demonstrated above, can be easily used to inform visual elements and images used on the website, advertising, and packaging.
Choose a Name and Logo
The name of your coffee and the logo are two of the most important aspects of your brand. These are the elements that will be seen by potential customers first, so you need to make sure they're effective.
Your coffee's name should be catchy and easy to remember. It should also be reflective of the type of coffee you produce.
Your logo should be simple and easy to remember. It should also be reflective of the overall look and feel of your brand.
You can hire a professional graphic designer to help you create a logo that meets these criteria.
Your brand's name is one of the first things potential customers will see, so make sure it's effective. The best way to do this is to keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Research shows that the best names are no more than six characters long.
Develop a Tone of Voice
Your brand's tone of voice is the way you communicate with your customers. It should be friendly and inviting, yet still convey a sense of quality.
Your tone of voice should also be reflective of the type of customer you're trying to reach.
If you're targeting young professionals, for example, your tone of voice should be more casual and hip.
On the other hand, if you're targeting an older demographic, your tone of voice should be more formal.
Developing a strong and consistent tone of voice is essential to building a successful brand.
Create Consistent Branding Across All Channels
Once you've developed your branding, it's important to make sure that it's consistent across all of your marketing channels.
This means using the same logo, colors, and tone of voice on your website, social media accounts, and print collateral.
By creating consistent branding across all channels, you'll be able to build a strong and recognizable brand.
The Role Design Plays
When considering how you will brand the coffee or coffee shop, you'll need to give some thought to the design of your logo, website, packaging, and any other marketing materials.
Your brand design should reflect the overall look and feel you want for your coffee promotional materials. For example, if you're going for a modern and stylish look, your design should be clean and simple.
On the other hand, if you're going for a more traditional look, your design can be more ornate.
No matter what look you're going for, it's important to make sure your design is professional and consistent across all of your marketing materials.
Your branding should also be reflective of the type of coffee you produce. For instance, if you produce specialty coffee, your branding should reflect that quality.
Your packaging, in particular, should be well-designed and convey the message that your coffee is a cut above the rest.
Ultimately, the design of your branding should be reflective of the type of customer you're trying to reach.
If you're targeting young professionals, for instance, your branding should be modern and stylish.
Graphic Design Services
There are a number of ways to go about designing your branding, but unless you have experience in graphic design, it's likely best to hire a professional.
There are a number of companies that specialize in coffee branding and can help you create a professional and cohesive look for your brand.
Some of the services these companies offer include logo design, website design, packaging design, and print marketing collateral.
When choosing a company to work with, be sure to look at their portfolio to get an idea of their style and what they're capable of.
Coffee Packaging Design
Packaging is particularly important for coffee brands because it's one of the few ways you can differentiate your product on store shelves.
Your packaging design should reflect the overall look and feel of your coffee brand.
It should also be functional, easy to open, and easy to reseal.
Your packaging should also convey the message that your coffee is a cut above the rest.
To do this, your packaging should be well-designed and convey a sense of quality.
Your packaging should also include all of the relevant information about your coffee, such as the type of beans used, the roasting date, and the country of origin.
This information will help coffee aficionados make informed decisions about which coffee to purchase.
Finally, your packaging should be eye-catching and memorable.
This will help ensure that potential customers remember your coffee when they're making their purchasing decisions.
Iconic Examples of Coffee Packaging
Some of the most iconic examples of coffee packaging design come from major international brands.
Nespresso, for instance, is known for its sleek and stylish coffee pods. The company's branding reflects its premium positioning in the coffee market.
Similarly, illy's coffee cans are also widely recognized and convey a sense of quality.
Other notable examples of coffee packaging design include Starbucks' iconic green coffee bags and Dunkin' Donuts' red coffee cups.
These brands have successfully used their packaging to create strong and recognizable brands.
Coffee branding is an important part of creating a successful coffee business. Your branding should reflect the overall look and feel you want for your brand.
It should also be professional and consistent across all of your marketing materials.
Your packaging, in particular, should be well-designed and convey the message that your coffee is a cut above the rest.
Remember, branding is a strategic part of marketing, which means the choices you make should be deliberate and reflect your business goals.
When done correctly, branding can help you build a strong and recognizable brand that will allow you to compete in the coffee market.
How important is branding for coffee businesses?
Branding is a critical part of any coffee business' marketing strategy. A strong and recognizable brand can help you stand out in a crowded market and build customer loyalty.
What are some common coffee branding mistakes?
Some common coffee branding mistakes include using a generic logo, using low-quality packaging, and failing to communicate the unique selling points of your coffee.
How can I create a strong and recognizable brand?
There are a number of ways to create a strong and recognizable brand. This includes choosing a professional graphic designer to create a cohesive look for your brand, using high-quality packaging, and including all relevant information about your coffee on your packaging.
What is the best way to communicate my brand's message?
The best way to communicate your brand's message is to make sure that it is consistent across all of your marketing materials. This includes everything from your website and social media accounts to your packaging and print collateral.
Would you like to learn more about how to promote coffee or your coffee shop? Check out our detailed and actionable guide on Promotional Strategies for Coffee Shops.