Why your coffee business needs a branding strategy

Specialty coffee is a growing market. Specialty cafes around the globe are popping up like mushrooms these days; and many more coffee enthusiasts with a passion for specialty coffee are following this trend and open their own specialty cafes or roasteries.

And, why not? Farming, growing, roasting, brewing and serving coffee is a profitable business – people will always want to have their cup of Joe, their daily caffeine fix. Specialty coffee is adding even more value, quality and sustainability to that coffee chain.

In this growing (coffee) market, it’s getting tougher for coffee business owners to find their homes and niches.

It’s not so much the chain stores anymore where independent coffee shops try to get a slice of that customer cake, as well. But, it’s more and more specialty cafes and roasteries that are sharing the same type of customers:

People that appreciate all what specialty coffee has to offer.

With more people knowing about and valuing specialty coffee and the effort of the industry to educate more customers towards the qualities of specialty coffee, one tends to ask how to stick out of that crowd of cafes, coffee shops and roasteries? How to draw customers to my coffee business?

The solution is a branding and positioning strategy.

Why does your coffee business need that strategy? Well, because of one word: uniqueness.

The best coffee business, just like any other small business as well, does not just plain exist and is successful with that. It offers a well-conceived and structured overall image, a consistent appearance.

Branding and positioning was not what to think about first, when you started your coffee business? Don’t worry!

Even if it should have been one of your first thoughts, it is not too late, to create an own branding and positioning strategy.

With an own strategy for your specialty cafe brand,

  • You know exactly who your customer is,
  • You stick out from the crowd,
  • You don’t lose sight – make branding your compass and finally
  • You attract more loyal customers and increase your sales.


Branding is the story of your coffee business, its main objective, its essential purpose, its reputation, the reason for its existence even. But, don’t get confused here. I’m not just talking about your logo and slogan, when talking about branding.

These are only two parts of it all.

Your branding

Start with how your coffee business is seen. Determine

  • The philosophy and beliefs of your coffee business.
  • What kind of service you want to be known for.
  • The kind of barista and other staff member that will appeal to your customers.
  • What your customers believe in.

The WHY of your coffee business has to take front row. Not what you do or the products you offer. Sure, your customers do buy your coffee, but they join a cause. And that’s what lets you stick out from the crowd. This is your unique value proposition.

Personalization is KEY!

If you’ve been skeptical until now – to figure out how to set yourself apart – there’s one thing, that cannot be copied, that cannot be imitated and that’s your personality.

If you’re still struggling with finding a WHY for your cafe, coffee shop or roastery, make it about yourself! Your personal story, your interests and hobbies.

With doing so, you’re not just personalizing your brand, but you’re also showing transparency and authenticity.

Think of all the anonymous coffee chain stores and their baristas, where would you rather buy your cup of coffee? At your place, right?


Positioning is the unique identity of your coffee business, it’s the setting yourself apart from your competitors.

It’s the purposefully working out of your strengths and qualities, with which your coffee business differentiates from another one of the same niche, i.e. specialty coffee.

And how do you best differentiate from your competitor? By delivering value.

Three ways of delivering value

There are three way of delivering value: You can be the best, you can be the most affordable, or you can be the most reliable one. The thing is, you can’t be all three!

Claiming to be an all-in-one solution is similar to committing marketing hara-kiri. Do not set yourself up for failure by over promising. It’s always better to under promise and over deliver.

Being the best

If you position yourself on quality, claiming to have the highest quality coffee or the best service in the local coffee market, you need to back up your claims through awards, accomplishments and results from satisfied customers.

Word of mouth still is key here. If you’re doing a good job, your customers will tell their friends and family.

Being the most affordable

If you position yourself based on price, claiming to be the cheapest, you will be perceived as operationally efficient. This is particularly appealing for customers who are on budget but who demand the best bang for their buck.

Offering a ‘special of the day’ for all those students rushing at your cafe or coffee shop during lunch time might be an option.

Being the most reliable one

If you position yourself based on trust and reliability, you need to listen to their unique problems and you customize your solution to fit their needs. Think of that special offer again, how about a certain deal for, let’s say, business people heading to your cafe/coffee shop in the morning before going to their offices, a ‘fast lane’ maybe, where they don’t have to wait in line with all the other customers?

To sum it up, a branding and positioning strategy is not just about your coffee business and your brand, it’s a lot about your customers and offering them value, too.

But, you need to be specific in your messaging, for every segment of your target market. You can’t just offer ‘excellent’ or ‘the best’ results. Your message must be honest and relationship-driven.

What's your coffee brand all about? How do you position yourself? Let me know in the comments!