Since I lead this startup known as Loam Coffee I'm always watching and paying attention when it comes to branding, marketing, social media, and the like. I'll read articles about these subjects and even the nuances from how branding is done in North America compared with Latin America and so on. With that in mind I feel as though I've become kind of good at "seeing through" marketing to decipher what brands are really trying to sell and promote.
For example, throughout watching the NBA playoffs I've noticed certain luxury car commercials and how they're promoting their brands. In essence they're saying, "If you buy this luxury SUV you will be sophisticated, urbane, and sexy." But in reality they're selling a commodity that instantly devalues once driven off the lot and since there are so many high tech gadgets and features it can be a nightmare once things start going awry. But we buy luxuries like this to promote or curate our own image.
We all know this and have simply understood the "why" behind branding and marketing. No conspiracy theories. Brands are simply trying to cut through the noise to promote their products and in the end get consumers to buy. Without sales all companies would die. In that regard it's about flexing, adapting, learning, and being willing to pivot as trends and consumer habits change.
But is there such as thing as "genuine" branding or marketing? In other words, cutting through the B.S. to simply say, "hey, here we are and this is what we sell ... and why." I read an article recently where even (some?) major brands are moving away from the "we're global" to push the "we're local" message. It is an effort to identify with people on the grassroots level as opposed from far off and removed.
As always, the conversation (for me) circles back around to, "ok, but what about Loam Coffee?" (And it should circle back around.) Are we simply a hype machine that's branded our coffee in a certain way to appeal to a specific demographic (mountain bikers) merely for the purpose of bumping up sales and carving out a niche? That is an excellent question.
On one hand I could certainly answer, "sure, that makes sense." Because on some levels it is true. But on the other hand, I'd contend that long before that our brand emerged simply from who we are. In other words, Loam Coffee is an expression or outflow of who we are and what we value. It is like we began by singing a song and along the way more and more of you also heard this song ... and began singing along with us. Are we niche? Sure. Do we have a target audience? Yep. But it's not because of some grand marketing plan or branding scheme. It's just us. We're singing our song ... and you're singing along with us.
What makes Loam Coffee meaningful is you. That our song has found you. What we then see unfold on social media is an echoing chorus of that song. We're stoked. You're stoked. We share our Loam Coffee stoke. You share your Loam Coffee. In turn we get to share your Loam Coffee stoke.
Thank you for singing along with us.
Words by Sean Benesh, Loam Coffee Founder and Brand Manager. Photo by Robin Munshaw