How could we craft a coffee brand like none other?
After 10 years of growing brands for our clients, we’d gained the necessary insights and inspiration to grow a few of our own. And since we drink more coffee than should even be possible for 30 humans, we thought java might be a fun product to kick us off. One extra twist: in the spirit of rising to occasions, we only gave ourselves eight weeks to create the whole brand – name, logo, go-to-market strategy, website, packaging, and lots of people to actually buy it. (Cue ulcers.)
Knowing our limitations, we teamed up with local roaster Bongo Java to take care of the coffee itself. While those master roasters developed five top-quality, ethically sourced coffees for us to call our own, we focused on the brand. In true redpepper style, we wanted to use our strengths and passions to play the game differently in the coffee industry. After all, we’re just a bunch of ad kids, so we’ve never been told “how you have to do things if you want to sell coffee.”
Choosing an audience
Most high-quality coffee companies focus solely on coffee and directly related issues like ethics and sustainability. Although our coffee would certainly be 100% organic and fair trade, we knew it would take something bigger than that to cut through the clutter. But the only way to find something that truly resonates is to focus on a very specific person you want to touch, and that means being fearless about ignoring a ton of other people. Considering our time crunch, we decided to build our brand for the people we knew most about – ourselves. And so we became a coffee company for creatives.
Building a strategy
Narrowing even more, we decided our company would be called Primary, because we’re all about creatives pursuing their primary passion simply by putting first things first and getting to work. (Think: Nike for creatives.) After all, creatives already drink coffee virtually every time they’re working. So with that nailed down, it was time to start adding meat to the bones. We decided to feature interviews with creative heroes so others could learn from what they’ve figured out. Then we developed an engagement feature that encouraged users to think critically about their creative processes.
Spreading the word
Eventually only one question remained: how on earth will people hear about us? With a nonexistent media budget, we needed something that encouraged users to share the brand themselves via social media. We came up with a system that rewarded users by giving them free coffee when they told their friends. Not only does that give us deeper engagement among current users and greater awareness among our audience, but it’s also a way for our online-only brand gets a real-world interaction with people before they ever commit to purchasing a product.
Launching to a warm reception.
With our Free Coffee feature in place, all we needed was to get people noticing the brand and the rest would take care of itself. The new iPad had just come out at the time, and the whole world was obsessing over the device’s overheating problem. We capitalized on that buzz by building HotPad, a web app that overclocks your iPad’s processor and reveals virtual heat coils on the screen – a perfect place to keep your coffee warm for hours. The story was on the front page of Mashable and Tech Crunch within hours, causing our brand to be tweeted to over three million users less than a day after its site went live.
Results are still brewing
We’ll keep you posted on Primary’s performance as we see how it’s accepted in the real world. Until then, jump over to the site and check it out for yourself. While you're at it, why not spread the word through the Free Coffee feature. You might just find some Primary on your doorstep before you know it.
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