Through Our Eyes: How Strong is Your Company's Branding?

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Branding is a key element of any business, no matter what size or type. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. But what exactly does branding mean?

Our President of Office Coffee, and current Chairman of NAMA, Howard Chapman weighs in on the importance of branding and brand equity.

From Howard's LinkedIn Page - Certainly, one element is a company’s visual identity, including its logo. But it goes much further than that. Done right, branding can increase the value of a company, boost employee motivation and attract customers.

Some say it’s time to update your brand when your organization goes through significant change. In 2011, for example, Starbucks’ logo was recast to signal that company’s move beyond coffee. The graphic mermaid Siren remained for brand continuity, but the word coffee was eliminated.

Great brands, like great companies, are built over time. My company, Royal Cup Coffee, has been around for 120 years. It has gone through multiple rebrandings in that time — including in 1996 when we celebrated our centennial. One change then was recoloring our trucks from stark white to a memorable black and brown. Prospects began to comment, “Oh, I know you guys — I’ve seen your trucks!”

Having had the good fortune of working at Royal Cup Coffee for 23 years, I am particularly excited about our latest brand transformation, and I’d like to share the experience with you here.

Let me be clear: I am a coffee guy, not a branding expert. Nor do I intend this as a commercial for Royal Cup. Rather, I think that knowing more about our experience may be helpful to you in your business. File it under “best practices.”

In undertaking this branding initiative, it was important for Royal Cup to honor our long history, while also acknowledging that coffee is literally hot right now — that we have unprecedented access to the best quality coffee in the world, and that we are an innovative, growing company. Our new logo reflects that with a crisper, more contemporary look that still incorporates our original lion icon.

We also launched a new website with a cleaner, easy-to-navigate format that better engages customers and shares the Royal Cup story through videos, photos and compelling content. A blog features recipes, articles about coffee, special offers and more. To support our new online presence, we created two new full-time positions — one for the website and the other for digital marketing/social media.

Royal Cup’s brand transformation also included a new focus on:

  • Our customers. We like to say that we “stopped selling coffee and started serving it instead.” This meant tailoring our products to the tastes of our customers by creating new blends, roast profiles and flavor combinations. We want to serve them the coffee and tea they want to drink.
  • Our people. As our CEO Bill Smith says, “It is not some of us, but the sumof us.” Our products and services are only as good as the people behind them, and we are very proud of the Royal Cup family.
  • Our future. We are undergoing a $48 million campus expansion that will increase our capacity and further modernize our processes.
  • Our promise to be the best has never wavered, but with this brand update, Royal Cup is stronger than ever.

Remaining relevant in the eyes of your customer is critical to your company’s growth. Is it time to reevaluate your branding? The beginning of the year is a great opportunity to renew and refresh.

For more of Howard's coffee thoughts follow him on LinkedIn.