Using custom coffee bags to define your brand

Sam Shipiti
April 30, 2024
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The coffee industry is continuously expanding, with statistics showing that the market size is projected to reach $182.63 billion by 2030. As familiar brands expand, new ones emerge to make the market even more competitive. 

In the US alone, there are over 38,000 branded coffee shops showing a steady growth rate of 1.5% annually since 2018. And this isn’t an isolated example–the specialty coffee sector in the UK has been registering tremendous growth since 2021. 

As the specialty coffee sector continues to grow, brands that master product branding are more likely to succeed and stand out. Investing in custom coffee bags can be an effective way to communicate brand identity and potentially sway consumers’ purchasing decisions. 

To understand how custom coffee bags can be used to define a brand, I spoke to Nikisha Bailey, the CEO and co-founder of Win Win Coffee

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Why visual representation matters when building brand identity 

Win Win Coffee started as a brick-and-mortar cafe during the pandemic. Since then, it has evolved into a prominent coffee brand, roastery, and distributor based in Philadelphia. As her knowledge of the industry grew, Nikisha and her fellow co-founder Matthew Nam poured their energy and effort into creating an equitable and just coffee supply chain. This has become the mission at Win Win, as well as a significant part of the brand’s identity. 

Unlike most coffee brands in the US, Win Win predominantly focuses on coffees of the African diaspora. “We work with cooperatives in Africa, as well as Afro-Colombian and Afro-Brazilian farmers in Latin America,” Nikisha explains. 

She adds that it was important for them as a brand to be a representation of what change looks like in the coffee industry. “Coffee comes from black and brown countries, and we wanted to be a positive reflection of that as well,” she says.  

This part of the brand identity is clearly reflected in its custom coffee bags, which tell a story that consumers have fallen in love with. Studies show that around 80% of consumers want brands to share such stories. Notably, research indicates that a compelling brand story can convert over 55% into buyers, with many more sharing it.

While shopping either online or in-store, the visual elements of packaging will be the first things consumers see. More so, around 72% of consumers say that they base their buying decisions on a product’s packaging. Knowing this, Nikisha says the brand had to reimagine its packaging.  

“Our first packaging was a black bag with just a sticker, but we have evolved to feature a pink bag,” Nikisha explains. She adds that this choice of colour was to show that the brand is still very much a fun one. The typography is eye-catching and intruding, as it sits alongside the logo, which has a deeper meaning that ties back to the brand identity.

“Our logo is a Ghanaian symbol for Nyame Dua, which is a sacred spot where rituals are performed”, Nikisha explains, adding that they always make sure there are elements of what Win Win represents in their packaging. Given coffee’s status as a global ritual, the symbol seamlessly fits into their brand.

Win Win recently added another coffee product to its selection, Como Dulce. This features a different packaging design that tells a much deeper story about the coffee. The pair were inspired after travelling to the remotest parts of Colombia to reconnect with Afro-coffee farmers. “[Como Dulce] is a term people use to describe Colombian farmers because their coffee is sweet,” she reveals.

To complement the name, the bag’s artwork features a woman sitting in a coffee plantation, savouring a steaming cup of coffee. This, too, was inspired by the couples’ visit to Colombia. “We met a lot of female farmers, so ensuring we had a woman that was forward-facing on our custom coffee bags was incredibly important to us,” Nikisha says. 

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The coffee experience: Why custom coffee bags matter

With product packaging, bland or generic designs may fail to leave a lasting impression on customers. With coffee, customers see and interact with the same bag every day, so brands want to have something that entices their senses and keeps them coming back for more. .

Nikisha weighs in on this by saying that coffee is an experience in which you have to get every stage right, starting from the packaging. She describes coffee as “a whole process of going to the store, looking at the bag, reading the story, and enjoying it.”

Custom coffee bags can elevate the customer experience and provide brands with a strong presence online. Notably, branded or unique packaging has a higher chance of being popular on social media, with 40% of consumers admitting they’d share it. 

The hot pink custom coffee bags from Win Win stand out because they’re uncommon. “If you’re retail, having something that is unique and will stand out in the rows of coffee that you see in stores is critical,” Nikisha says.  

While custom printed coffee bags come at a higher cost, the rewards to both businesses and consumers can be priceless. Reflecting on her experience, Nikisha believes that “if you really want your brand or coffee to stand out, it’s worth setting aside a budget for custom coffee bags.” She also insists that custom coffee packaging should tell the brand story, and that of the coffee, as this will bring in more customers. 

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Keeping customers informed on coffee packaging changes

Many studies have tried to determine why change makes consumers uncomfortable, particularly from brands they’re loyal to. While custom printed coffee packaging can represent a positive change, some customers may initially worry it may impact their overall experience. 

Therefore, communicating any packaging changes is critical to maintaining customer loyalty and trust. Nikisha recommends that brands “promote the new packaging ahead of time, telling people about the coffee, and highlighting things about the packaging that still tie back to you.” This is important, as any inconsistent elements in the new packaging may cause consumers to disconnect from the brand. 

Brands should consider posting updates months in advance, before unveiling the new look. “At Win Win, we sent our new custom coffee packaging to a bunch of people who purchase coffee from us all the time and asked for their feedback,” Nikisha explains. She encourages brands to use social media polls to gather this information from online customers. 

After executing all these steps, Nikisha says the feedback was great. “Being able to provide  something that was unique, and at the same time educational, while championing and celebrating the farmers, resonated deeply with our customers.” This part of the coffee experience is just as important to a business, especially for brands that plan to expand without losing customers. 

Last, Nikisha advises brands to “do research on your own, both online and offline, by meeting people and asking questions.”

At MTPak Coffee, we help coffee businesses create bespoke coffee bags that perfectly reflect their brand and its values. Our team of expert designers will guide you through the process, ensuring your coffee bags or custom coffee boxes stand out on the shelf, attract attention, and adhere to your unique style.

Images courtesy of Win Win Coffee

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Sam Shipiti
Sam Shipiti

Born and raised in Kenya, a country famous for growing top grade coffee, Sam’s unique perspective is deeply rooted in his heritage. His writing journey has seen him contribute to magazines and coffee blogs, and work for global marketing agencies, honing his craft and establishing a strong voice in the industry. He now focuses on uncovering the unique stories and innovations fuelling the specialty coffee revolution.

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