The coffee shop industry has been enjoying substantial growth over the past decade, resulting in the high street coffee giants popping up in most UK towns. An incredible benefit of the booming coffee industry is that independent, local coffee shops are also thriving.
Coffee culture is real, and it isn’t going anywhere, many coffee drinkers have their large chain, go-to coffee shop and go-to order, it’s almost habitual.
So what happens when you are somewhere new then? Your go-to is gone but you still want your coffee fix.
Can brand design really influence decision making?
Coffee shop trends are ever changing, especially with the younger generations often choosing them as their meeting point. Coffee is rarely just about the actual drink; it is the complete experience, its meeting up with friends, it’s fun and an escape, your brand is providing that. As much as people love a coffee shop, their expectations are high, fuelled by social media pictures and bloggers. Some of us are looking for a catch up, or a place to fire off some work emails, others however are looking for that next ‘instagramable’ moment. Are you providing that moment though? Creating a strong brand identity that resonates with your customers is a vital process that will take them through a connective experience with your brand.
As you are on the high street looking at potential options you go through a decision-making process.“What looks appealing from where I am?” From where you are you can see a few coffee shops, as you glance around one catches your eye. You assess it further, it is extremely well presented, the brand name is unique and distinctive, you can see other customers entering and some leaving with their branded coffee cups and take away bags. Compared to the other offerings, it stands out. The coffee shop looks great, but you need more to make your decision; you manoeuvre closer and can see it has ample outside seating – a good option, but you want to sit inside.
From the outside looking in, you have a much better view of what the coffee shop has to offer. Firstly, their décor matches throughout, the staff are presentable in their uniform, the overall theme is refined and modern– it looks professional and welcoming. This first impression is so critical and many of us will have ‘a feeling’ about a place. This feeling will be made up of all the information you have absorbed and processed so far, that ‘feeling’ is usually the deciding factor on whether you enter an establishment.
Why is it then, that sometimes we just don’t have ‘a good feeling’ about a place and move on? The likely hood is that something will have created a disconnect which is not sitting right with you, this disconnect stops you becoming a customer.
Now your next decision; As a new customer, you want all the information before heading through the door. How often do you research a menu before booking a table, this is the same; What are they offering you? Luckily, this coffee shop has catered to those more cautious potential customers (another tick in their favour,) and you can see a clear branded coffee menu teamed with a food option, presented in a well-lit branded frame. Perusing the menu, you feel a growing sense of confidence, you can see your classic flat white coffee order, no need to navigate the fancier options and the food offering is compelling, fun but healthy, a good sweet and savoury mix, an option for everyone.
As someone who needs gluten free choices, you look for the assurance on menus that you can eat and drink somewhere without fuss. This coffee shop has thought of it all, its easy to see what options are gluten free, and there is plenty of them, it feels nice to not be restricted.
You haven’t even gone through the door yet and already your experience is an exceptional one; accessibility and dietary requirements have easily been met without compromising on the aesthetics and visual experience. You feel confident in your choice, a growing excitement to get in there and try it out. For most, this level of experience is unmatched, it is what makes them rave about the coffee shop, recommend it, and follow it on socials. They become a fan of your coffee shop and want to be a part of your story.
This experience highlights the importance of strong brand design, the journey literally starting from being spotted from afar down the high street to discovering more about the brand offering and the experience it will provide. If the coffee shop is weak in its offering and branding, lacks distinction and direction, in amongst its competition it will not stand out, meaning many won’t take a step further to find out more and it’s a lost opportunity.
This is why connected brand experiences are so vitally important. Whilst you need a strong brand identity that creates interest, it’s the step further that we care most about; how a brand can make someone feel. This is how we attach meaning to a brand. It’s also why in some places you have a ‘good feeling’ and others not. If you think about it in more detail, the places that usually have a ‘good feeling’ will have successfully connected the dots. They have a strong brand; that makes you feel great, it sparks excitement and when you step into the interior environment or space it feels connected.
Your brand has the ability to provide potential customers with meaningful feelings and authentic experiences. This really is the essence of branding; it spans way further than just an identity or logo. Those that connect the dots, tell their story, and understand the relationship between a brand and interior space, will really strengthen the position of their brand and business for future growth.