Storytelling Weekly – #023 Blue Bottle Coffee

I don’t drink coffee.

But when I studied (and later worked) in the San Francisco Bay Area, I would scoop up 4 to 6 pounds of coffee beans – as souvenirs – whenever I flew back to Taiwan.

Because everyone in my family LOVED coffee.

(many of them could not function without coffee in the morning)

And there was one brand they loved most – 

Blue Bottle Coffee.

Recap of Storytelling Weekly

Before diving in, here’s a quick recap for newcomers just tuning in to my One Story A Week Series. 

  • Once a week, I’ll find an interesting brand to study.
  • I’ll break down what I like about their storytelling techniques.
  • Then, I’ll show you how to utilize these techniques in email.
Full Disclaimer

I don’t have any insider info or access to their account. So, I’m writing based on studying their website, interviews, and emails. However, I don’t have proof of earning claims or results of specific campaigns.

Now, there won’t be any “hard selling” in this series, but – 

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Brand Introduction

Ecommerce Email Marketing - Blue Bottle Logo

The story of Blue Bottle Coffee started back in 2002.

When its founder – James Freeman – developed an obsession with fresh coffee during his off-time as a musician.

This obsession inspired Freeman to roast his own coffee beans in the oven of his Oakland, California, apartment. 

The small oven quickly became a shed…

…a vendor at the local farmer’s market

…and now, a $700M brand.

(this shows the possibility of following your obsession)

Storytelling Tactics

There are a lot of debates around Blue Bottle.

“Is Blue Bottle worth the price?”

Some will say it’s all hype.

But others, like my brother, are die-hard fans.

But regardless…

As a business owner (and marketer), you’ll be a fool if you deny its success.

So, what’s the secret?

Of course, there is the taste…

  • “Blue Bottle coffee is very well-balanced. It is strong, with a slight sweetness to it and very little bitterness.”
  • “Their coffee is also exceedingly fresh.”
  • “BB has consistently great foam.”

But, more importantly, if you look at the brand closely, you’ll notice one theme that comes up repeatedly – 

Minimalist.

The stores.

The designs.

The products.

(in fact, Blue Bottle is even famous for creating simpler brewing tools)

And this, my friend, is the holy grail for branding.

You want to connect your brand with 1 to 3 words (or adjectives).

(what would your audience immediately think of when talking about your brand?)

To give you a few examples:

Everything packaging you release…

Every product you promote…

Every marketing message you publish…

Everything you do should strengthen that image.

You want to coin a word (or max. three words)… so you polarize yourself from your competitors.

Email Tip of The Week

Most companies are approaching branding completely wrong.

It’s not about that one clever slogan.

It’s not about getting a beautiful logo.

And it’s definitely not about posting a few funny memes on social media.

(btw – most brands are destroying themselves when trying to be funny)

It’s about walking the walk… and showing up frequently.

If you claim to be a premium product… yet show up with a 50% discount every other week… no one will take you seriously.

If you devise a clever slogan (e.g., “Just Do It”)… but don’t have Nike’s advertising budget… no one will remember you.

And that’s why branding can be difficult for small-to-midsize eCom brands.

The good news?

This is where email marketing shines.

It’s a cheap and effective way to connect with your audience.

You can strengthen your brand image by telling the right stories in every email. (read more about this concept in this article => $80B Branding Secret)

Conclusion

Look, if you’re a 6 to 7-figure e-commerce…

Then, you’re probably already paying for the leads – traffic, subscribers, and customers – with ads. It’s the only logical next step to…

Use email marketing to strengthen your branding, increase retention, and get a bigger margin.

Because building a good email marketing system (I like to call it an Email Profit Engine) can give you the three most important foundations to scale:

Leverage. Control. And Safety Net.

So, get started today.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now” – Chinese Proverb

BTW – If you’re not at the 6-figure mark yet, you don’t have to worry about branding. Because you’re still at the “prove your concept” phase.