Let your coffee brand off the leash from time to time.

August 14, 2013 by
breaking bad beer and coffee

Image credit:: Dwros89 on deviantart.com

We all like to protect our brands. Actually, we often obsess over them. Our brands are key assets that need to be looked after.

The trouble is, sometimes we protect them so much they simply end up being static and, dare I say it, boring.

We create style guides and strategy documents that build walls around how our brands can be presented. And, of course, we don’t build these walls simply around the presentation of our logo and coffee bag labels. We also build them around anything and everything we do, from our activities on social media to the scripting of videos or media interviews. We want to make sure nobody says anything that is “off brand”.

While it’s understandable and necessary to protect your brand, when you keep it on too tight a leash, you can run into problems.

First, your brand can age and become stale very quickly.in an industry which is as volatile as the coffee industry. New entrants into the market can leverage the oldness and staleness of your brand to their own advantage.

Second, you can miss out on a ton of opportunities to interact with your customers and prospects in some interesting and innovative ways. This is particularly true of social media, where too much brand management can quickly kill any sense of spontaneity or true conversation.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Using an example from another industry, but one which has many similarities to the coffee business, Albuquerque’s Marple Brewery recently launched a couple of “Breaking Bad” tribute beers to coincide with the premiere of the TV series’ final eight episodes.

They created an Indian White Ale called “Walt’s White Lie” and an Indian Dark Ale called “Heisenberg’s Dark”.

This gave them an opportunity to create a level of awareness that wouldn’t have been possible by sticking to their usual brand messaging. The outcome? The story of their tribute beers was all over Twitter, Instagram and Yelp. And according to Marple President Jeff Jinnet, he was fielding calls from media outlets from across the country and from overseas.

A couple of things happened here. First, they let their brand off the leash for a few days and attracted a ton of publicity as a result. Second, even though the promotion lasted for a limited time, they created a subtle shift in the perception of their overall brand.

They are no longer in that safe place occupied by so many other hand-crafted beer breweries. They have shifted outside the boundaries a little and, as a result, are now more visible and better differentiated.

Most companies within the hand-crafted or artisanal beer industry tell the story of their committed founders, along with photos of them in front of their micro-brewing equipment.

Sound familiar? Make you think of artisanal coffee company founders standing in front of their small-batch coffee roasters?

These are the safe places, and the safe stories to tell. This is where most brands reside.

Marple Brewery stepped outside those boundaries, told a very different story, and received a huge spike in attention as a result.

They haven’t given their brand a huge makeover, but they have given it an edge and a difference.

Maybe your coffee company could do the same.

NOTE: If you want help letting your coffee brand off the leash, be sure to check out my writing and consulting services.

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