The branding of coffee cups

In today's post, Alex Stewart removes the protective sleeve to explore the branding on those ubiquitous take away cups, from adverts to quality illustration.

Takeaway coffee cups are little mobile adverts, as much a visible label as a branded t-shirt or designer handbag. Starbucks were quick to recognise the potential of the visual impact of its containers and their market ascendency coincided with and led to overt product placement in US TV shows and films like The West WingSex and the City, and The Devil Wears Prada. By turns showing social connectivity or up-all-night hard work, these gleaming white towers of coffee created mental attachments as well as giving the Seattle brand some excellent advertising space.

Brands are now making greater use of the takeaway coffee cup, and the positive associations of coffee, to launch their own cafés. US clothing giant Ralph Lauren is serving its own blend of coffee at their flagship store in New York, the deep green branding redolent of twenties chic and evoking, for Ralph himself, “time spent with friends and family, the people I love”. The hipster Californian shoe brand Toms recently unveiled plans for roasters and coffee bars within their shops and the luxury goods firms LVMP and Prada may be doing the same with cafés Cova and Pasticceria in Milan. Customers are just as likely to leave these venues with a branded coffee cup as they are a tote or carrier bag, and the visual identity of the brand is carried with them.

Consumers are also showing something about themselves with their choice of carryout. You can, of course, make a pragmatic, ethical statement by choosing a recently jazzed-up Thermos or a KeepCup; your environmentally aware stance could also save you money, as many places offer a discount with use. Or you can (inadvertently, really) showcase your indie values (and those of your favourite café) if they’ve branded their take-away cups. A great recent example I came across was from Society Café in Bath, who have used the very talented illustrator Ben Rothery to give their cups a beautiful and distinctive look. Whatever way you look at it, your takeaway cup is now far more than just a container for your coffee.

Image courtesy Liberty at Norton Folgate.

October 29, 2014 — Best Coffee