Welcome to the BrandingWire. For our case study we’re focusing on a fictitious company and situation.
The Case Study: The coffee industry is large, competitive and full of unique tastes and styles. With that premise put in place, imagine a small coffee company in mid-America. Operating for 8 years, they have a few retail stores, no debt and are moderately successful and profitable. Their operations are funded out of steady cash flow and all their beans are roasted on-site. Their retails stores have an open, relaxed feel to them – sort of country-funky. Although there is a very strong local attachment to the company, there is little recognition outside of the area, but the owner is committed to doing whatever it takes to create a thriving business. Their brand name is decent, but nothing memorable and they have a poor tagline – Great Coffee at Great Prices. There is nothing setting their identity apart and their logo needs help.
So, this coffee business has the money and the desire to grow, but they’re unsure of where to start or how to do it. Let’s toss around a few ideas for our imaginary bean counter.
We’ve said there is a strong local attachment to the coffee brand – it’s time to capitalize on that. Start by tapping that local attachment for insight as to why the brand is so strong with area residents. Why do they prefer this coffee over Starbucks, Caribou and other larger chains? What characteristics of this coffee shop resonate most with locals? What needs improvement? Through surveys and discussions with customers, the coffee shop can formulate their list of top selling points that separate them from competitors.
With the brand information gleaned from local customers, a new logo and tagline should be developed that infuses local charm and promotes a coffee drinking experience. Grocery store shelves are stocked full of generic coffee brands – why compete there? Promote an experience for the coffee drinker who wants something more from their cup.
This BrandingWire pundit thinks it would be unwise to beef up coffee operations to the point of attempting to push out mainstream brands from every grocery store shelf in the U.S. Let’s start by pushing mainstream brands off their local grocery shelves and create a web experience to push the brand outside of the area.
First they must examine their local, physical branding. Their stores should be redesigned to incorporate the new, fresh, locally-infused brand elements (logo, tagline, URL, etc.). Store employee clothing, coffee cups and “for-sale” drinkware, and bags of coffee for home brewing should be redone to incorporate the new brand elements and give local coffee drinkers additional reasons to feel attached to the local brand and experience. The newly designed coffee packaging should be pushed at every local grocery store, coffee shop, and restaurant – the brand should dominate anywhere locally that sells coffee.
Next, a web presence that embodies a lively and fresh coffee shop atmosphere must be created. Although it will incorporate local characteristics, the web site should be built to reach out to the rest of the world and whet the appetite for a taste of your local brand. The site will combine:
- All of the new branding elements.
- A social conversation room for consumers to read about and converse with others who enjoy coffee. By correctly reaching out to the demographic that engages social media, the coffee shop will be able to tap viral marketing that will proliferate their messages for them.
- Videos of local stores, local landmarks and profiles of local customers who have become part of the brand.
- Recipe book of coffee-related foods and beverages offered up by the new community of contributors.
- If possible, local musicians will be featured with music recordings for download.
A full social media blitz will take this small coffee shop well beyond its local ties.
Engage. Converse. Convert.
Branding also happens on the search engine results pages, and that’s exactly where this coffee shop should aim when expanding out of their local area. Sites such as CoffeeGeek.com and CoffeeUniverse.com prove there is a “thirst” for communicating and socializing your coffee preferences. Do multiple searches and some quick surfing, and you definitely see brands start to present themselves online. Companies such as Storyville Coffee Company (saving the world one cup at a time), Timothy’s and Cafe Britt take different approaches but are consistently present in search results.
- A well optimized website can yield positive organic results and keep the company in the mind of coffee drinkers who look for their next coffee experience online.
- A related paid search campaign can solidify the brand among search engine users.
An approach such as this capitalizes on searchers looking for unique promotional gifts or new coffee drinking experiences.Participation in industry online forums can also play a role in developing the online presence. Positioning themselves as a participant and expert in the world of coffee can lead people to want to check out their brand and even give it a try. Other methods of online advertising such as strategic banner placement and text links can also be used to draw in the coffee drinker. The idea behind this online rebranding is to engage the coffee drinker, give them the option to converse and share their preferences, and then convert them to their brand.
The sky is the limit for this coffee maker if they can infuse their new brand with the opinions and characteristics of their local following, reflect that brand with a strong local presence in stores and on shelves, and create greater awareness of their brand and products with an online brand building campaign.