When Mike and I visit our favorite local coffee shop we are certain to get a book with the wrong cover. How’s that? Well, the disposable coffee cups served have another’s company’s branding all over them. Let me explain.
Nick Brown wrote an article a few years ago where he interviewed Kiwi artist Henry Hargreaves, who compared disposable coffee cups to book covers. If they’re plain and blank, they have no covers. That’s terrible because it communicates nothing about the content inside. What could be more boring and a complete whiff on one of the most important branding opportunities than to have a blank cup?
Sadly, many coffee houses like our local favorite do worse than have no cover. They have the cover to the wrong book. They buy coffee cups because they’re cheaper, no doubt, but those cups have another company’s marketing, logo, and branding all over it. Tell me really which customer is going to buy a case of the syrups depicted on your coffee cups?
Who knows where your co-worker’s awesome coffee is from if your name isn’t even on it? People take this cup, a tiny billboard, and willingly move it all around town for you. They show their friends. They take it to work. They take your billboard and your brand into their everyday lives. They do this for free. Scratch that. They pay you to do this. But in reality, if your cups have someone else’s brand on them, they’re advertising for someone else.
If it’s an Ethiopian, naturally processed, single origin pour over in the cup, but a hazelnut and chocolate syrup combo on the outside of the cup, the cover doesn’t match the book. I get saving a few cents per cup. We all have budget constraints. Some things, however, should be non-negotiable. Another local shop buys blank coffee cups and stamps the cups themselves. It’s better than nothing.
A little StazOn permanent ink and a custom stamp will cost you less than $20. Done deal. Your logo is out there. If your brand has a low-fi, rustic theme going on, it might actually be the exact look you’re going for. Still, it places the correct cover on your book. So get your billboard out there onto the street and let people see from the cup that what’s inside is special.
Hargreaves even made art prints out of some of his favorite cups and sold them for $250. You go on ahead and buy those, I’m just trying to get cafes to put a little more money into their branding. As Hargreaves said, cups shouldn’t be an afterthought. Since your cups are a touch point that customers actually touch, they should be a focal point fo your brand experience.
They really do color people’s perception of the product within. Awesome book covers sell books. Bad book covers do more harm than good. When an author puts their book out there, they have about 5 seconds of “thumbnail scanning” to get someone interested enough to download their book onto their Kindle. Coffee shops sometimes have those same 5 seconds to win over or at least intrigue a new customer enough to darken their doors.
Why would you put the wrong cover on your book or leave it out completely? You wouldn’t. So don’t.