A few days ago I was intrigued enough by a fellow Google Campus member to attend a talk by Colin Pyle, one of the co-founders of CRU Kafe, a London based start-up, who were allegedly ‘disrupting the coffee industry’.
I was somewhat sceptical, after all the market is awash with the next big coffee thing and amazing tasting coffee can practically be found on every street corner (in London at any rate). Throw in coffee pods…well I’m sure you can understand my scepticism.
But wonderfully, their story is a testament to the power of insight, innovation and brand execution, and a lovely reminder that innovation doesn’t have to mean re-invention, it can sometimes just be about doing things better.
The founders at CRU Kafe had identified three key ingredients; (a) we love our tattoo adorned Barista coffee, (b) we all want convenience and (c) there must be a better alternative to Nespresso.
I like my coffee, but as much as I love to drop into my local coffee haven at the drop of hat, it’s not always convenient. That combined with the fact that Nespresso’s hardware is now open to all, provided them with a powerful insight and a great opportunity.
There innovative thinking is to simply bring these insights together, giving us great tasting coffee that is super convenient and ethically sourced.
But a great idea is only a great idea if it is executed well and this was where the CRU Kafe story really hooked me in.
They knew that trying to compete in the coffee market would be very challenging, even for well established brands, never mind a relatively small start-up. Add into the mix a small plastic pod and…well, this was not going to be easy.
However Colin inherently knew they needed to build a brand and create an emotional connection between the product and their consumer, striving to tell their story and deliver it in the most engaging way possible.
There first employee was a designer.
From the outset they went about building a brand story using content that strives to be consistent at every touch point, from online to the execution of their pods and packaging design. They want to build a brand that engages consumers and takes them on a journey, one that happens to be tasty, convenient and in a capsule.
As Colin puts it himself, “We do not believe you have to sacrifice taste for convenience”.
For these guy’s, brand execution and the final product is everything. How they continue to deliver their story, innovate effectively and build their brand will be hugely important in driving their success. I applaud them for understanding the power of design early on and the importance of delivering it effectively. Hiring a designer at the outset was a brave move, but one which is helping them to execute their brand in an engaging way.
For me, this is great evidence of the importance of actionable insights, innovative thinking and brand execution, a lesson we can all learn from, especially the many entrepreneurs and SME's striving to be seen and heard.
Are CRU Kafe truly disrupting the coffee market?
Well...‘disrupting’ is a well used term in our industry and I will leave that to you to agree or disagree. But what I think they are trying to do, is take a great innovation that put good coffee at our fingertips and make it a little bit better, by design.
As David Bowie said, “It’s not who does it first, it’s who does it best.”
And I certainly hope they do!