There are two cafes, on either side of the street.
One is a bit rough and ready and for the most part of the morning is in the shade. As winter begins to set in, it’s freezing here.
The other has the sun beaming through all morning. It also has beautiful pastel branding and inside and outside seating.
On paper the latter wins the vote every time. However, in reality, the rough and ready cafe, with no inside seating, that’s in the shade, with dated branding, has by far, more people coming to their cafe.
You might chime in now and say, well it’s got to be the coffee. “The Shade Cafe’ would definitely have better coffee”.
But when it comes to ‘people behaviour’, typically we have already made up our minds before even tasting the coffee, whether it’s better coffee or not. In most cases we tell ourselves before the experience how it will be, good or bad, and then usually the outcome is aligned to this initial belief. In essence, we like to prove ourselves right!!. (Once my brother conducted a blind taste test between vodkas: Belvedere and Smirnoff. We had to choose what we thought tasted better. Unbeknownst to us, he only used one of the vodkas in the test… we were all beyond doubt that one tasted better than the other!!)
So let’s say the coffee at both places is very good. Then what is ‘The Shade Cafe’ doing better?
What makes them miles better is that they stand for something bigger than a caffeine hit!
Firstly, the hessian sectioned-off rectangular area with bench chairs, where people are squashed together, forces you to get so close to each other that you end up non-stop talking with friends or complete strangers.
The blankets. They have you covered… in more ways than one!! The blankets show that they care about you. That they want you to stay warm, settle in and enjoy your morning coffee.
The staff know a lot of the locals by first name. On Mother’s Day I saw a five year old present a gift to one of the cafe staff. Everyone is made to feel like a part of the family.
And one of my favourite things – they don’t serve coffee in take-away cups. They have all different types of mugs and cups (some that take me back to the 80s). This gesture speaks volumes; It shows that they care for something bigger than making money (Takeaway cups are cheap, you don’t have to clean them, and you don’t need someone to clean them). When you drink out of a mug or cup, it makes you want to savour the experience even more. As the heat of the coffee is warming your face and you take your first sip, you think to yourself, why the rush, I should sit down and enjoy this… Further confirmation that they care about you. Also, if you don’t have time to stay, you can take your mug with you, and return it later. By doing this they are saying “I trust you” and “come again”.
So many subliminal messages are going on around the morning coffee ritual at this cafe. What makes it sooo good, is, I believe them. They are not just bunging it on – it’s completely who they are.
This is the difference between brand and branding. You can have beautiful branding but if the brand experience for everyone involved (staff, customers, suppliers, etc), is lacking love, no amount of branding will get you across the line!
The challenge for businesses that are not a small coffee shop, where everything is contained, is how do you transfer and continue to develop the brand across numerous touch points and people, whilst maintaining a consistent experience and message.
Enter marketing… a cross between science, psychology and business. Marketing needs to understand the total business first then they inject their special sauce by taking all this information in, making threads and connections, and then distilling it into one bottle that makes a difference in a small (that leads to big) or big way.
What makes your brand worth crossing the street for?