For many, the scent of coffee is the first highlight of the day – I know it is for me. Truly, nothing beats that freshly brewed smell as the cup warms your palms. Only two known aromas – chocolate and lavender – are interpteted in exactly the same way whether they enter the nose from the outside (through smell) and the inside (through taste).
According to Allegra Strategies, a market research company specialising in the sector, Britain’s 16,500 coffee shops had a turnover of £6.2 bn in 2013, a rise of 6.4% year on year. This is compounded by individual’s experiences of what seems every town centre and high street; every other shop now seems to be either a bank or a coffee shop. Whether it’s Costa, Starbucks, Cafe Nero, Coffee Republic, or an independently run coffee haven, in 2014 it was established that approximately one in five of us now visits a coffee shop every day compared to one in nine in 2009.
Despite the booming market however, there’s probably never been a tougher time to be a non-chain coffee brand. Although, undoubtedly, the number of quality independent coffee houses is exploding, the increasingly crowded marketplace makes differentiating an independent brand from their competitors and finding ways to stay on-trend, relevant, and therefore profitable, isn’t easy.
It’s not just about getting the right look, or even serving the greatest cup of coffee; It’s about creating an unique experience that makes people feel good whilst gives a double-shot boost to your brand. From the logo to the store design and everything in between (packaging, signage, displays etc.), all the parts of a successful brand have to work in sync. If not, the cracks start to show and the business suffers.
When it comes to building their brand, most companies miss the boat because they focus on what they want people to believe, rather than how they will deliver unique value.
There are a few methods used to define brands:
1. Brand Mapping
As one of the most valuable assets an organisation possesses, mapping a brand can help identify where the value lies, where consumer’s expectations lie, and where new and relevant opportunities may be to strengthen customer experiences by driving differentiation, relevance and authenticity.
As well as a PRESTCOM analysis and SWOT analysis, Brand Mapping can also reveal insights into the beliefs, motivations and prejudices behind their consumers behaviours and purchasing habits.
2. Brand Positioning
Brand positioning aims to clarify, simplify and amplify a brand’s story, enabling the brand to go beyond the confines of its category and take an obtainable, sustainable, and (most importantly) favorable position within the marketplace. The whole idea is not to differentiate the brand from its competition but instead ask; “How can we address the needs of the market in a way that is unique to us?”
3. Brand Architecture
A strong brand is clear about what it represents. Properly managing how individual brands, sub-brands, line extensions and ingredient brands relate to and support each other goes a long way to shape and increase portfolio value. Evaluating each brand as well as its individual stakeholder relationships means organisations can: i
- Ilustrate brand families and hierarchies
- Unearth opportunities to create new brands
- Identify line extensions and ingredient brand opportunities
- Reveal cross-alignments and cannibalistic brand practices
Of course, all of the things that make up a brand take time and effort to come up with, create, and refine. Whether it be a logo, a website, branded packaging/merchandise/store interiors, the message itself etc, it’s important to recognise that a brand – however successful – is a constant work in progress, whether this be a coffee house, new brand of beans, or even ourselves.
My first step in branding myself (after a lot of self reflection and analysis of course) was this blog. However, despite my consistent profiling across online platforms and integration between said platforms, I realised a while ago that as I now approach the end of my postgraduate studies, I would need to hone my ‘brand’ to be more consistent in its style, design and messaging.
And so – with the help of far, far too much caffeine to be healthily consumed in one day – I developed a rough design of my logo.
I like to think that as well as showing my strong love of coffee, it holds a bit of character. Admittedly, it’s a little rough around the edges, but then, when I consider it, so am I.
Although one day – as I gain experience and confidence in my abilities – I know I’ll be polished up to a true shine; I think that, for the time being at least, I like the personality I feel this design expresses about me, not to mention the personalised ‘uniqueness’ that using coffee staining will have for my business cards.
After all, when you really think about it, whether your preference is a latte, mocha or sharp shot of espresso, there’s nothing better than a perfectly made coffee.