Magpies, coffee, and aneurisms

Creating an icon out of a local brand

Magpie Coffee knew they had something special. They could tell by the growing lines and expanding customer base in the Reno area.

They were becoming the go-to coffee company for more and more people, but as far as branding went, they weren’t quite at the same level they knew they should be.

So they reached out to us for a rebrand and new identity.

The day we got the email, we looked at the empty Magpie cups strewn about the studio, made eye contact, and high-fived it out.

Challenge, accepted

Jacked up on Magpie coffee (because we were now ‘creative partners’ and had to test the product… regularly), we got right into the thick of things to establish the iconic linework of the magpie.

The centralized challenge of the branding was apparent to us from the outset. The owners of Magpie are extremely good at what they do. They love their customers, and their customers love them. In no way are they ‘coffee snobs’. Therefore, we didn’t want to overcook the bravado here.

The challenge was in keeping the known simplicity of Magpie in place while infusing their credibility and stature in the industry. We didn’t want to make them into something they weren’t.

Maintaining a symbol while transforming it

And so began our first major challenge: The magpie silhouette…

Everyone loved it — the owners, the customers, the staff. How could we maintain the integrity of the bird while breathing new life into it?

From ink to storefront

A couple months into the branding we got the word — Magpie was going to be opening a storefront.

Right away, we jumped into the brand positioning, where we honed our skills in ‘guiding’ a client through the process. We took the initiative to further Magpie’s growth proactively rather than just doing the work on the Creative Brief as well as establishing a solid direction and ended up doing the whole storefront, even lending a hand with the interior design.

Funny aside: Pete had to stop drinking coffee in the middle of all this due to the fact that he barely dodged a brain aneurism. Yes, Pete literally almost died while performing his own ‘product research’ on Magpie.

Making coffee fashionable

The next step was incorporating the brand into clothing. We learned very quickly that, much like the skateboarding world, coffee is not a reference in the industry.

Real skaters don’t wear shirts with skateboards on them and neither do hard core coffee aficionados.

It’s more about symbolising aspects of the brand rather than going straight to the obvious and jumping right into the coffee reference directly. A lot of coffee shops have logowear with coffee beans and steamy coffee cups that sit on the shelf months and years later.

Iconic and collectible

We wanted to make the packaging into more than just a good looking brand. We wanted to make something iconic and collectible. We wanted to build the desire for customers to purchase each piece in the series. This was well within reach with each roast having its own unique illustration.

It’s hot and it’s cold (brew)

Another insight that struck as we dove deeper into the branding was how awesome it would be to kick off a cold-brew campaign.

Magpie was already cold-brewing at the shop and customers loved it. So, we came up with a design/packaging concept and pitched it.

The cold brew concept was a no-brainer for Magpie and when it launched, got a ton of praise both online in the packaging world as well as locally.

By creating a ‘club’ around Magpie’s cold brew and designing a label that people loved having in their fists boosted cold brew sales.

Current day

The vibe hits as soon as you enter their storefront and their productivity has increased due to the new packaging.

The Magpie brand is truly a work of art. Their branding is now equivalent to who they are in their industry.

Clean, elegant, and robust.

Our work with Magpie was noticed by several other coffee companies, sparking work both locally and internationally with the likes of San Franciscan Roasters, Humble Coffee, Orange Roasting Co. and Bill’s Beans.