You may have noticed that Peoples Coffee is looking a little different of late. Our rebrand has come full circle and we are now looking a little more poised, polished and professional.
We started debuting the revamped Peoples earlier this year, easing all of our wonderful supporters (and ourselves) into the pool one toe at a time and the feedback we had was so positive that we decided to just throw you all in head first!
The biggest question we had from people who were a little hesitant about the new look was ‘why’. Why change what was working just fine? Well we thought we’d really let you ALL in on the ‘why’, no holds barred, so I sat down with the founder of Daughter & Son and the mastermind behind our new look; Alice Lloyd, to ask the hard-hitting questions.
How did the rebrand come about?
I began talking to Peoples Coffee about rebranding a year and a half ago. They had been in business for 11 years and had seen other coffee companies move to fair trade and organic products, and they knew they needed to differentiate themselves. The things that had made them unique back in 2004; have now become more mainstream in the coffee industry. With customers appetite for ethical products and services over the 2000’s building, even large corporate brands like Starbucks have fair trade and organic ranges.
There is also a growing fatigue around ‘green-washed’ brands- brands that seem like they are organic/natural/ethical on the outside because of the picture of the farmer on the packaging, or the use of rustic, ‘hand-crafted’ typography and illustration. Often, without much digging, you find that one of these product lines is made by the same company that uses less ethical practices in other parts of their business.
Peoples Coffee can stand proud in the knowledge that they have championed ethical practice and sustainability as part of their way of doing things since the start, having become a fully fair trade accredited business (one of only two in New Zealand). They are also working directly with farmers at origin, which is a unique selling point. But they don’t need to stay tied to those clichéd green visual cues to communicate those things.
What was the driving force behind the rebrand?
A desire to tell the Peoples Coffee story in a new and compelling way. There are so many great things that Peoples Coffee do that their customers don’t even know about – yes, part of the price of a cup of their coffee goes to helping communities in the areas where their coffee is harvested, but they also do a lot locally – The Arohata Project for instance (giving inmates barista training so that they have transferable skills when they are released back into the community).
How did you become involved and what attracted you to the project?
I have worked with Peoples Coffee for a number of years and could see how their progressive vision didn’t quite match up with their previous brand aesthetic and way of communicating. Liv Doogue, the General Manager, was highly motivated to take the brand in a fresh direction, and that is always an exciting place to start.
Collaborating with her, members of the Peoples Coffee board (namely Paul Soong), writer Glen Puklowski and designer Lisa Nicole Moes, helped push the brand in a direction that sets Peoples Coffee apart, both strategically and aesthetically.
Was the old branding a consideration in the development of the new branding – if so, how and what aspects have remained?
Yes, it was. When a brand has such a rich foundation like Peoples Coffee, it doesn’t make sense to wipe the slate clean and start again (strategically or aesthetically). Peoples Coffee have set themselves apart strategically by being socially driven – they will continue to produce exceptional coffee while working closely with people at coffee origin and closer to home.
We wanted to take the brand in a new direction aesthetically for the reasons I mentioned previously. Part of the rebrand exercise was establishing the character of the brand and how that translates visually. As a very egalitarian company, the ‘Everyman’ archetype rang true. And being a business that prides itself on ‘giving back’, doing an elaborate, flashy redesign did not feel right.
This led to a fairly utilitarian aesthetic – simple yet considered typography, a range of colours that can be used to create different moods and a new logo that hints at the original crest design, but is executed in a more modern way. Photography for Peoples Coffee has always had an authenticity about it, these are genuine ‘Peoples People’ doing their thing. We will continue to tell their stories and make that connection between those at coffee origin and those serving or drinking Peoples Coffee stronger.
What were you inspired by when dreaming up ideas for the new look?
Keeping this idea of utilitarianism and ‘the Everyman’ in the back of out heads meant we drew inspiration from other benchmark brands that meet that criteria. Levi’s is a classic Everyman brand and the way they retain their original values while remaining modern and relevant was inspiring. Converse is another. Then there are the ethical brands that don’t subscribe to the ‘green design’ aesthetic such as Freitag.
When it came to picking typefaces, designing icons or choosing materials for signage, the idea that ‘form follows function’ was key. For example, simple, practical (utilitarian) materials were employed in the building of the Peoples Coffee exhibition stand, materials such as pegboard and plywood, as elaborate, frivolous decoration wouldn’t have felt right.
What do you love about Peoples Coffee?
I love that I get to work with a truly progressive, socially driven company that puts its ethics at the heart of its business. They show that being motivated by something other than profit, can still result in being sustainable. It is a model that I wish more companies embraced because you can feel a sea-change happening currently; consumers want transparency.
I also love the fact that they didn’t shun me when I said that I drank decaf! (Their Decaf Peru Piura is pretty darn good).
How does the new branding represent the culture at Peoples Coffee?
‘People for the common great’ is what we established represents Peoples Coffee’s culture best and this will be one of their mantra’s going forward. They are a dedicated, passionate bunch who are striving for excellence.
What is your favourite thing about the new look?
It is the kitset of elements that we have to play with – a fresh colour palette, interesting typefaces, patterns, and a way of communicating that is uniquely ‘Peoples’.
What would you say to people who think the new branding has ditched it’s ‘rootsy’ look in favour of a cosmetic upgrade?
Well I hope after reading this, they can see that the rebrand exercise wasn’t just a cosmetic upgrade. It was more about uniting Peoples Coffee’s progressive ideals with a more progressive look.
June 15th, 2016