“Every great coffee has a story.”
That’s what caught my attention this morning from the back of the Caribou Coffee bag.
So okay. You got me. Tell me a story.
“After summiting a mountain in Alaska, our founders realized life is too big to dream small. So they started a company that would go to any length to create a rich coffee experience that…”
Blah blah blah.
Not okay. You lost me.
You told me you wanted to tell me a story. You began by telling me about unnamed “founders” climbing a mountain in Alaska at the top of which they found a motivational thought. Which somehow inspired them to start a coffee company. The rest of the “story” is marketing bromides: “…That’s why we search the world, meet the growers, choose the finest beans from the best harvests, and roast them to perfection.”
Is there any major coffee company in the world that doesn’t say these things?
This morning on his blog Seth Godin asks, “What does your brand stand for?” He goes on to remark: “If you tell me about service and quality and customer focus, you haven’t answered my question, because a hundred other brands stand for that. If you are what others are, then there’s nothing here to own or protect or build upon.”
Caribou, tell us a story that more sharply distinguishes you from the other coffee companies using the “finest beans.” Tell us a story about how you know and how we are to understand that your beans are the finest. Tell us a story about searching the world, or about one of your growers, or about sustainable agriculture.
Give us real characters. Real locations. Real conflict.
(You do much better, Caribou, on the Rainforest Alliance page of your website. The video and diagram are more effective at telling your story. You make your customer the protagonist and that’s not a bad instinct. But I, for one, would like to hear more about specific farms and the farmers and the families that are helped by them.)
Unnamed protagonists climbing unspecified mountains and having “Aha” moments is too vague to be compelling. Sure, you only have space for about 88 words on the back of the coffee bag. But besides the fact that you don’t use the space effectively, you might have asked us to continue the story on your website, or at least picked up the story on your website. Indeed, I was surprised upon going to your website that the theme “Every great coffee has a story” is nowhere to be found.
So this is the thought I’m waking up to today: don’t invite us to listen to a story and then not tell us one. Especially before we’ve had our first cup of coffee.