Feb 4, 2014

Muldoon’s Coffee: Brand Storylines Spark Conversation

At any given time 3% of your market is buying, the rest are not. This poses a real problem for brands and marketers — how to engage your market when they’re not buying.

One effective way to engage your entire market, buyers and non-buyers, is to engage them in a conversation. Instead of marketing to them, speak with them. Share ideas. Find common ground. Have a conversation.

Muldoon’s Coffee engages their entire market with two primary storylines:

  • Employee productivity
  • The green office

Both themes are generic and reach a broad audience, but they’re also strategically linked to Muldoon’s brand and points of differentiation.

Storylines support positioning

Muldoon’s Coffee is a corporate coffee service based in Toronto, Canada, and a client of Sticky Branding. Muldoon’s stands out in the highly competitive corporate coffee industry, because they roast their own beans, they have a proprietary single serve brewing system, and they’ve crafted a service model that is uniquely theirs.

Muldoon’s brand storylines supports two of their key competitive advantages:

  1. Taste. Most of their customers find the coffee tastes better than Tim Hortons, Starbucks and other premium coffee shops.
  2. Green. Muldoon’s proprietary brewing system is the greenest single serve system on the market. They don’t use hard plastic containers like K-Cups or Tassimo, and their Singles are 100% biodegradable.

They’ve taken their strengths and extended them into points of conversation that they can use at a cocktail party, tradeshow, customer event or even while they’re selling.

Make your story shareable

Talking about your product’s features and benefits isn’t very interesting, especially for someone who isn’t shopping for your services.

Instead of bragging about how good their coffee tastes, Muldoon’s talks about the “corporate productivity drain” of employees going out for coffee. Shaun Muldoon, CEO of Muldoon’s Coffee explains, “An average employee spends over 125 hours a year going out for coffee. That’s 6% of the employee’s salary or 3 weeks vacation.” That’s a startling stat.

Shaun continues, “Professionals, especially young professionals, want a good cup of coffee. They’re not going to drink the stale, vending machine stuff in their office. They’re going out to get a good coffee.”

With some research and a bit of spin, Muldoon’s shifts their key feature, taste, into a story about productivity. By simply saying, “6% of your payroll is walking out the door for coffee,” they’re capturing the attention of their market, both buyers and non-buyers.

The story is also simple enough that others can grab the stat and turn it into their own conversation. The idea travels far beyond Muldoon’s, but it comes back because they’re the originator of the research.

Go beyond the buyer, and have a conversation

Stories have the ability to travel beyond your target market.

Your products and services may not directly affect all aspects of an organization, but your stories can. Muldoon’s leverage their green story to engage corporate “Green Teams.”

The point of interest travels both ways. On one side Muldoon’s talks about green in their products, but on the other they can share ideas on green manufacturing, distribution and business systems.

By sharing information you can have a meaningful two-way conversation. It’s give and take. You can share what you’re doing and your knowledge, but you can also be inquisitive and learn. The two-way conversation makes the discussion far more meaningful and authentic, and it fosters deep, personal relationships.

A catchy stat will only take you so far. It’s the deeper conversations that make your brand stand out and stick in someone’s mind.

It starts with a Point of View

Brand storylines are manufactured.

One of the most famous examples of a brand storyline is the Dove Campaign For Real Beauty. Dove created a worldwide conversation about beauty, women in advertising, and women taking pride in who they are. The campaign broke down barriers, and created a real conversation with customers, women and the media.

Dove’s campaign was effective and sticky, because it was based on a point of view — real women don’t look like super models. Muldoon’s is attempting a similar strategy. Instead of pitching features and benefits they’re engaging their market with two points of view: going out for coffee is a productivity drain, and a strong business is a green business.

The stories have universal appeal, because they’re based on an opinion. Both Muldoon’s and Dove are sharing their opinions, and engaging like minded people in a conversation.

Stories make brands sticky

Storylines are effective, because they’re not sales pitches.

When you feel like you’re being pitched you automatically get defensive. Your defenses rise so you don’t get coerced into a decision you’ll regret later.

Storylines break through the defenses. They work, because they’re conversations. You don’t have to pitch anything. You are simply engaging people with your point of view, and seeing where the conversations go.

A great story makes your brand more interesting, appealing and memorable.

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