Speed, What’s Under Your Brand?

 In General

This is a story about coffee shops. Actually, this is a story about speed within coffee shops and its impact on consumer lifestyles, impatience, and tattoos.

The total of my day, like all of you, is comprised of a series of vignettes; individual moments that combine, hopefully, to put money in the bank, make for exciting conversation around the dinner table or, if nothing else, to maintain my self worth on this planet.

I like my vignettes to pop right along, one after another, maintaining a fast paced momentum. Any kind of impediment to this tempo is cause for angst. I hate red lights, I’m never early to appointments, (because I have to wait), and I want, what I want, when I want it…which is typically, right now. This brings me to some coffee shop experiences of late that have made me think about speed and its impact on a retail brand, (yup this is how my mind works…can’t help it).

Coffee and muffinI heard an NPR report that said Americans have 12 minutes on average for breakfast. Not a lot of time. This means that coffee, the first morning cup, has to be sourced expeditiously. My normal routine is to drop my son off at school and then hit the Starbucks around the corner. This ubiquitous coffee company in my opinion has done a superb job of delivering decent coffee quickly. In fact, speed at Starbucks, especially in the morning, maybe more a part of their brand now than the coffee itself. Other companies have hung their brand on speediness too; Jimmy Johns Sandwiches, Gieco Insurance, and Most National Fast Food Concepts to name a few.

The other day my routine changed. I was in a different part of town and so I pulled into a well known locally owned, multi unit coffee shop. I walked in and cued at the counter. There were probably five people in front of me. No problem, I thought, the staff will buzz right through these customers and I will have my coffee soon enough. Oh, was I wrong! This particular coffee shop, and many others I’ve noticed recently, takes a much different approach. Quickness is not on the menu here, rather the lack there of rules the roost and subsequently, drives their brand.

To the delight of many tattooed hipsters face down in their laptops, this slow coffee, each cup hand pressed, steeped and poured over a bamboo filter is brought to the table in about 15 minutes…maybe longer. Time is of the essence my friend but coffee is not rushed here. There ought to be a sign at the counter, “Artist at Work…Do Not Disturb”.

But, while this java hut was not up to my speed it doesn’t mean that it has no merit. The added time and commitment to the craft of artisan coffee has its place and it’s a concept making money. In fact, the slowness of this brand, like the swiftness of Starbucks, is in fact a major component of the company’s underlying value proposition. Slow, as a concept for this hipster coffee house, was conceived as part of the business plan well before the first cup was poured. It differentiates them from the sea of coffee competitors, and like Starbucks, their execution is spot on.

So, I ask you; what kind of speed is under your brand? Fast, slow or somewhere in between? The key here is to recognize what RPM is best suited for your business and then deliver it consistently. Under performing, whether too fast or too slow, per your intended and/or perceived brand position could leave you stranded on a lonely, unprofitable road.

Deep thought like this goes into every Urban Eat’s project. Call us when you need calibration.

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