Our first mission? "A fictional,** small coffee company in mid-America has a few retail stores, has been in business for 8 years, and is moderately successful. They roast their own beans on-site and their stores are relaxed (kind-of country-funky).
There’s a very strong local attachment to the company with little recognition outside of the geographical area. Their brand name is OK, but certainly not anything special. They have a lame tagline (Great coffee at great prices!) and no distinctive identity pieces."
They want to grow, though they're not entirely sure what is the most profitable path. They sense the growing competition from Starbucks, McDonald's, Caribou, and Dunkin' Donuts. What should they do?
Having provided some unsolicited coffee advice to Starbucks, I guess I’m qualified for this. Normally I’d step through a process. But this is a blog post so, like any good cooking show, we’ll give the whole process and all the ingredients a quick nod, but show the final product for you to see.
Coffee Buzz, Crowded Space
A look at the landscape bodes well for our coffee client (CC), but it also shows why competition is fierce.
The San Diego Union Tribune notes that daily consumption of coffee surpassed sodas in 2007 for the first time in more than 15 years. In “The Buzz over Energy Drinks” NPR tells us teens and young adults spent almost $2.3 billion on heavily caffeinated drinks in 2006. That may explain why more teens are hanging out in coffee houses instead of malls. Coffee is appealing to a wider audience. A coffee house needs to be flexible to meet all of their needs.
Taking Seth’s Small is the New Big to heart, I’m proposing modest growth aimed at expanding regionally by a few locations. This will allow CC to become the anti-Starbucks, offering a more authentic, local experience than you’ll find at one of 13,000 locations worldwide.
CC will need a complete identity overhaul at existing locations prior to expansion. This includes creating a consistent brand with a new logo, tagline and standards that express what truly makes them different — Country Roast.
Creating boutique beans in small-batch production on site sets CC apart and should be played up. The roasting process should be brought to the front of the store so it’s visible to the customers — a front and center event. Ultimately, CC should offer roasting classes so customers can learn how to roast their own beans – free trade of course and offered in ample supply through CC.
On the Road, Online to Connect with New Customers
To get noticed in their new markets, a mobile roasting truck will canvass local events to show off the process and give out free coffee samples showing off their new look and directing customers to their website for more information.
The web site will tap into social media, serving up plenty of roasting content, photos of the truck at events and the owner’s blog, Coffee Talk, helps tell the story and engage customers in conversation. A full e-commerce component will also make bean sales possible online.
Branding Makes Magic Beans
The new, consistent look and the increased presence regionally and online will help differentiate CC and Country Roast. By introducing the customers to roasting and reinforcing its local presence, CC will connect with customers. The end result is a successful, profitable growth strategy (in less than 600 words).
**For the first BrandingWire post, we chose a hypothetical situation, but we plan advising on real situations in future posts.