Sunday, March 29, 2009

Location based branding

Two new Artigiano's have opened recently in my 'hood.

For those of you not from Vancouver, Artigiano's is a fabulous local coffee shop. There was one on the ground floor of the building that DDB was in, when I worked there. And there are now two of them within a block our TBWA\Vancouver offices. They make lattes with some form of addictive milk that makes them better and creamier than anywhere else. They used to sell very premium super-high end beans. There was usually a line-up to place your order. And the cafes are still relatively rare so, needless to say, I was pretty happy to find one opening near me.

I went to the nearest one the other day. It had all the same interior trimmings as the others, and the same delicious coffee, and the same great foam-art. So it seemed all good.

But the new Artigiano is on Broadway and Laurel. It's two doors down from a Tim Horton's / Wendy's. And it's sandwiched between two unleased spaces. Here's a shot of it.And I've got to admit that while they've done everything in their power to maintain the brand equity in this new location, it's just not cutting it. And I believe that it has everything to do with this more down-market location. The cafe doesn't feel as unique or as interesting as the downtown urban locations. It feels out of place here and a little awkward. Like you're at a pool party and you're wearig a suit and tie.

But it gets even worse. They've opened another one just a couple of blocks away in the entrance area to the new huge London Drugs. Frankly, in that case, I don't think they're even trying to maintain some sort of brand standards anymore. They're just capitalizing on some serious volume. It makes them feel more like a McDonald's than a premium cafe where a tall latte costs $3.33.

I think they've made a pretty decent error here. It may work out well for them in the long run, but I think that they're starting to lose their special feeling. When you're sharing space with LD Insurance and competing for coffee dollars with Timmy's, you're gonna lose some of that premium feel that allowed you to get away with selling $20 cups of coffee. (True story. But not for today's blog.)

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