Envision Maine has been hosting a speaker series called Pioneers of Maine’s Innovation Economy that features Maine-based entrepreneurs talking about their success and their vision for improving Maine’s economy.
Let me start off by saying that I’m a huge fan of Coffee by Design, but apparently I never knew half of their great story. Our office, in the State Theatre Building, is directly across the street from Coffee By Design’s original storefront location. And I frequent the place… frequently. I get coffee to go and buy coffee by the pound to use at home. I also see their sponsorship at an incredible number of events in the community.
I was blown away by Mary Allen’s vision for her business, her dedication to giving back to both the local community and to the international communities she is in contact with because of their bean buying.
Quick tip: As a dedicated patron, since moving to Portland Maine in 2005, I actually think she needs to toot her horn a bit more.
Coffee By Design: A case study in effective branding
I wanted to highlight a few of her thoughts as they pertain to branding.
In the Q&A period of the presentation, she was asked about Coffee By Design’s most effective marketing strategy. Her answer? The To Go cups emblazoned with the CBD logo.
Another key theme of her talk was that Coffee By Design has been extremely consistent in their message, which has built up trust in the CBD brand.
For example, as they grew and began roasting and then sourcing their own beans, they eventually decided to remove the “fair trade” label from all of their beans. She chose to abandon this industry term because she felt it did not tell the whole story. Instead, she made a promise to her customers that they were going to know enough about where their beans come from that they could make a well-educated decision on what beans to choose. These decisions are complex and customers learned to trust Mary Allen and her staff so that they could feel good about any coffe sold at Coffee By Design.
They describe this on their web site: “For us, the selection process is a part of what defines us as a company.”
Their combination of a strong, visual brand identity that is backing up a company’s promise is a case study in effective, intelligent branding.
Coffee by Design has a very well-known and distinct visual identity. While they’ve made some upgrades and changes in the eight years I’ve lived here, everything from Coffee By Design has a memorable color palette and graphic style. Their black and brown illustrated style has become easily recognizable by locals.
When you pair this with an equally unwavering message to your customer—we take the time to understand how our coffee beans are grown and who is affected by this—you create a powerful brand.