This first BrandingWire collaborative posting is a fictitious case study, designed to showcase some creative branding ideas. However, I’d be surprised if one or more companies don’t glean some actionable insight from this wealth of free branding advice!
->The BrandingWire team has been approached by a small coffee company. They have a few retail stores, have been in business for 8 years, and are moderately successful – reasonably profitable, with no debt – and operations are funded out of steady cash flow. They roast their own beans on-site (and boy, does it smell wonderful!), their retail sites are wide-open, relaxed, and kind-of country-funky. There is very strong local attachment to the company, but little recognition outside of the geographical area (it’s a family operation but the owner is committed to doing whatever it takes to create a thriving business). 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. The logo looks like it came out of a branding bargain bin.
They want to grow, though they’re not entirely sure what is the most profitable path…more retail? Franchising? Mail-order? Corporate coffee service? Something new and unique? They have plenty of capacity to crank out more coffee beans, and can easily add more without undue financial strain if growth really takes off.
They sense the growing competition. Starbucks, of course. McDonald’s is upscaling their coffee. Caribou Coffee is going to move in 30 minutes away. Dunkin’ Donuts may be heading in their direction. How do they distinguish themselves?
That’s the challenge for each member of the BrandingWire posse. Here are links to the various creative ideas generated by the bloggers of BrandingWire:
Kevin Dugan, of Strategic Public Relations, presents a case for regional expansion with a freshened identity, and has an interesting “mobile” concept for expanding market awareness.
Drew McLellan, who blogs at Drew’s Marketing Minute, expands on the types of insightful questions with which he’d approach the coffee shop stakeholders, to help unearth the genuine brand distinctives.
Steve Woodruff, over at StickyFigure, assumes that he’s listened in on all of Drew’s interviews, and gives 7 concrete suggestions for ways to differentiate and grow, focusing on the on-line/mail-order approach.
Becky Carroll at Customers Rock! gives us ideas on how to build the business organically by growing customer relationships and then leveraging them to bring in new business. She also gives some very tactical suggestions on creating an optimal coffee house experience based on customer needs, even down to the details in the bathroom.
Patrick Schaber, the blogger at The Lonely Marketer, looks at capitalizing on local strengths, as well as web strategies to expand beyond the local market.
From Lewis Green‘s perspective (L&G Business Solutions), the place to start is ensuring a very positive customer experience, particularly by focusing on employee training, and a consistent and positive (multi-sensory) brand experience within the store. People first!
Our Conversation Agent, Valeria Maltoni, presents a wealth of buzz-creating ideas, from distributed brewing kiosks, to personalized mugs, to open displays of bean-roasting, to photo ops. After reading her ideas, you’ll want to go to JAVAroma right now for a cup!
Martin Jelsema on The Branding Blog introduces the concept of creating a “meeting room” environment as an extension of the coffee shop, to draw in the increasing numbers of social networking groups who gather for discussion – and to differentiate from other brands that cannot easily accommodate such gatherings.
From Olivier Blanchard, a cornucopia of ideas awaits at the Brand Builder blog. Creative ideas such as educational kiosks, client-aided re-branding, and lessons on how to use a French Press are blended with a number of questions that need to be asked to arrive at an optimal – remarkable – identity.
Gavin Heaton addresses the story – specifically, the who, what, why and how of the business’ story has developed, and what that means for its ongoing marketing.
Now, here’s a challenge for you! The BrandingWire team is going to move beyond fictitious case studies, to real branding challenges. Small companies, or non-profits, that need a brand make-over. Do you have any candidates? Submit your ideas in the comments, and we will take a look (hello, London 2012 Olympic committee…are you listening?). We might showcase your idea to demonstrate how the BrandingWire collaborative practices Branding that Works.
(Image credit: Flickr)