Creating a Brand for Way Cooley Coffee: Break All the Marketing Rules

Creating a Brand for Way Cooley Coffee: Break All the Marketing Rules By Darby O’Brien, as transcribed by Shel Horowitz [Editor’s Note: Notes from a talk Darby gave at the BrandNew symposium organized by BidwellID, Amherst, MA, November 1, 2005. Material in square brackets is my paraphrasing or summarizing.] I developed an appreciation for branding in 5th grade, when I lit a cigar in religion class. I’ve been branded as troublemaker, rule breaker, and couldn’t get into to Amherst College because of that cigar. Branding is a corporate code word for uniform. The other word right behind that is template. So we can drop an ad in, look familiar, be safe and cheap. [Fashion designer] Andy Spade said in Fast Company, ‘brand consistency is overrated.’ It doesn’t have to look the same but feel the same. The element of newness, surprise, mystery–customers should never understand the whole picture. [O’Brien has done a number of projects for a local hospital, Cooley Dickinson in Northampton, MA (CDH), including the introduction of the hospital’s branded fair-trade coffee, “Way Cooley, which raises funds for Hampshire Health Connect, which pays the medical costs of uninsured patients.] Way Cooley: we had no plan, no budget when we started. If anyone had asked, ‘is this consistent with our branding strategy?’ the whole idea would have been killed. The development of the coffee was a lot like...

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