Stop Trying To Be Blue Bottle Coffee

by | Jun 11, 2020 | ūüĎč Coffee Branding

Playing follow the leader is a recipe for disaster.

blue bottle coffee branding

There’s a¬†huge¬†impulse in the coffee industry to respect and take cues from¬†the giants. Blue Bottle, Stumptown, Intelli.

You can feel it in every independent cafe that adopts the stark white Nordic design style (succulents required, or else).

Clean, minimal coffee packaging. An authoritative, if not distant brand personality.

I hear it all the time from copywriting clients…¬†

“We love the Blue Bottle style. It’s minimal and clean really professional. No frills or marketing gimmicks – just excellent coffee.”

I understand the instinct. I really do.

But it’s completely wrong.

You Can’t Compete On “Just Excellent Coffee”

The leaders in any category are well-known. They don’t have to get creative to¬†differentiate themselves. They don’t have to earn your respect and trust (and purchases).¬†They get it automatically because they lead the category.

It’s why you’ll never see a Coca Cola sales letter. It’s why Cheerios cereal¬†doesn’t take out Facebook ads.¬†And it’s why Blue Bottle Coffee doesn’t have to try experimental email marketing strategies.

(I’ve seen their emails. Trust me, they don’t)

For category leaders, it’s less about creative marketing strategies and more¬†about branding – maintaining that high-status they’ve earned.

Coca Cola’s main competitor is Pepsi, not a small soda startup. And Blue Bottle really only needs to worry about the other specialty coffee giants.

For 99% of coffee businesses, trying to follow Blue Bottle’s lead will cause you to adopt a marketing and branding strategy that’ll lead to… well…¬†nothing.

The Coffee Industry Has A Sameness Problem

This is the curse of trying to punch above your weight.

You have to look at people who are successful to be inspired. But you also have to make that inspiration your own.

We’re not good at that second part in the coffee industry.

I’m willing to bet there won’t be another highly successful coffee shop chain in the US that uses that distinct Nordic design style for many decades.

It’s done. It’s used. It’s Blue Bottle (at least in the US).¬†

Read: Selling Coffee Online? How To Not Get Lost In The Crowd

And yet, more and more shops open that look eerily similar. More and more online stores launch that are minimal and simple (and stunningly boring).

You don’t want to be like Blue Bottle.

You want to be you. 

There are no rules.¬†The pressure to conform to the “industry standard” when it comes to coffee¬†branding or marketing¬†is a shadow.

Make your own path. 

Be wild. 


And customers will notice you.

Hey ? I'm Garrett Oden

Hey ? I'm Garrett Oden

Freelance Coffee Marketer

I work with coffee brands around the world to create and execute captivating digital marketing strategies.

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