Branding your tea is influenced by which segment of the market your tea company targets. We look at four examples of strong tea brands with different market positions: Mei Leaf, DavidsTea, Honest Tea, and Tetley.
- Mei Leaf: Mei Leaf is a strong brand in the specialty tea (i.e., loose leaf tea) single-origin segment; this segment is willing to pay a high market premium.
- DavidsTea: DavidsTea caters to the specialty tea (i.e., loose leaf tea) and blended tea segment. The company brands itself as exciting and innovative.
- Honest Tea: Honest Tea targets consumers in the ready-to-drink segment who value product purity (e.g., fair trade, organic, little to no sweetener).
- Tetley: Tetley targets the at-home market, which uses distribution channels such as grocery stores. Tetley offers mass-market tea (i.e., tea bags), and the brand’s products appeal to those who value convenience and a cup of tea with consistent product quality.
- Mei Leaf: Mei Leaf has a recognizable corporate brand, but memorable and unique product branding is given higher emphasis.
- DavidsTea: DavidsTea has consistent branding designed to stimulate excitement. Their characteristic teal colour is applied in cohesive corporate branding.
- Honest Tea: Honest Tea has recognizable corporate branding to increase customer brand recognition across product lines.
- Tetley: Tetley has extremely consistent corporate branding; brand colors and logos are kept simple and given much prominence to maintain strong brand awareness.
- Mei Leaf: Mei Leaf has bespoke brand packaging that draws design inspiration from a wide range of source materials and highlights the product's unique premium value. While the designs differ across products, the visual style is consistent, allowing consumers to identify products that look like Mei Leaf tea.
- DavidsTea: DavidsTea uses undifferentiated label designs, which allow the brand to label products consistently while allowing for products to be added and retracted. This is an appropriate choice given the extensive product line and product turnover.
- Honest Tea: Honest Tea’s brand identity and design are consistent. The Honest Tea logo is applied across all product lines, and the design within products is consistent.
- Tetley: Tetley has an incredibly consistent packaging design; the brand is characterized by prominent logos and flawless brand continuity. Tetley's tea packaging reinforces customers' consistency expectations, which supports their product line's value proposition - consistent product quality.
- Mei Leaf: Mei Leaf offers high-quality tea that reflects tea culture, both in the packaging of the tea and tea consumption. For example, paper packaging is used for tea cakes, and gaiwans and gongfu brewing are emphasized in tea consumption.
- DavidsTea: DavidsTea uses highly sensual products to bring excitement to tea. For example, chunks of fruit, artificial flavorings (which creates a pleasant aroma), and unconventional ingredients (e.g., chocolate, sprinkles, gold flakes) are added to tea. All elements of the blends serve to build anticipation and excitement for product consumption.
- Honest Tea: Honest Tea’s product quality is very consistent (effectively indifferentiable) within product units (e.g., all “Just” Black Tea looks and tastes the same). Product branding is identical within product units, and the products within the units look the same (e.g., same label, as well as same tea color and clarity). Branding is similar across product lines (e.g., the logo is consistently applied on all product lines, although other aspects of the packaging design differ across lines).
- Tetley: Tetley’s product quality is incredibly consistent (effectively indifferentiable) within product units (e.g., Tetley Earl Grey). Branding is exceptionally consistent, and within a product unit, branding is identical. Tetley's entire product line bears the brand name within the product name (e.g., Tetley Earl Grey, Tetley Super Green Tea Matcha with Manganese, Tetley Orange Pekoe). The iconic blue Tetley logo is applied to all products, with significant visual prominence (e.g., it takes up approximately one-third of the packaging space on most products). The brand blue is consistently applied on their website. Consumers are highly confident that they know what to expect when they drink tea from the Tetley brand.
What You Need To Build a Strong Brand
When branding your business, there are three things you should have to maximize your chances of becoming a strong brand. You need a brand strategy, brand communication guidelines, and brand identity guidelines.
It's important to link your brand-building efforts to your business strategy; doing so allows your brand to be a long-term asset. For example, your company's mission statement may become a building block of your brand manifesto. Successful brands spend time understanding their target audience, so aligning your marketing and branding is key.
A brand strategy relies on a key idea that is expected to persuade consumers to buy, pay attention to, and support a brand. An effective brand strategy considers your core brand identity and brand positioning, which takes into account the market in which you compete.
Brand Communication Guidelines
A brand communication strategy defines the general direction of what and how the brand communicates. Brand communication guidelines build on the brand strategy and act as the link to consistent execution in your marketing campaigns.
Brand communication guidelines provide patterns for your brand communication that can be applied across advertising mediums (e.g., website, social media). Brand communication guidelines enable you to highlight the same core themes, so you can communicate your brand consistently, ensuring differentiation and recognizability.
Brand communication guidelines establish your brand's voice and tone. Brand voice and tone are an extension of your brand personality and brand values, as defined in your brand strategy. Defining your brand's voice includes a list of do's and don'ts, which make application easier.
Brand guidelines often include your brand story. Understanding how your brand fits into the lives of your target audience makes it easier to communicate with them in a way that resonates.
A logo is a design adopted by an organization to identify its products. A logo is closely paired with a brand mark, the symbol or visual image that helps immediately identify a particular company. As such, your company logo (and brand mark) are important components of building your brand.
When creating a logo for your business, business owners have a few options:
- Work with a design studio (most expensive) = custom logo
- Contract a professional designer (moderately expensive) = custom logo
- Online logo generator (free logo design) = generic logo which allows some edits to your logo
Once your tea or coffee company has designed a logo, you need to develop your brand identity documents. This is an important step for all businesses, but particularly small businesses.
While larger brands usually have in-house marketing, small tea and coffee brands usually work with contractors for marketing, website development, and design work. When working with external service providers it's absolutely critical to provide these contractors with your brand identity documents (brand style guide). This ensures that you're able to build a consistent and cohesive brand across products and channels, such as your website and business cards.
Brand Identity Guidelines
Brand guidelines (also called a brand style guide) standardize your brand's look and feel. The brand identity guidelines specify logo use, typography, and brand colour palette. Once created, your brand guidelines should be applied unwaveringly to your website, as it's a significant visual reflection of your brand's identity.