Has the Mugg & Bean brand been mugged or is there something I am missing in this makeover?
It's been my favourite place for years now but recently I have had that feeling much like visiting your old home and finding it empty, featureless and completely devoid of that good old family atmosphere you knew and loved for so many generations.
When Mugg & Bean was founded in 1996 by Ben Filmalter, it was instantly set apart from everything else by its "Old San Francisco" coffee shop branding and interior decorating. Its coffee and food were great quality and it was no surprise that, within three years, there were 96 outlets locally and some overseas in places such as the UK, UAR and Kuwait. Bland and faceless
But, ever since Filmalter was bought out by Famous Brands, I am battling to keep thinking of it as one of my most favourite places. The old Mugg & Bean branding has gone completely and has been replaced, in my opinion, by an extremely bland, faceless place with no heritage and nothing at all to differentiate it from all the other bland faceless restaurants around today.
I suppose as a marketing commentator I should phone them up and ask why they chose to do this total makeover? But then, their customers can't and probably won't think of phoning to ask for the reason. They'll just do like me and wander off somewhere else.
Maybe there is a good reason but I can't think of one. All I am able to assume, as a consumer, is that they reckon the new bland and featureless look is better than the old one. Food for thought
Trouble is, while I am sure that the quality of the food and coffee hasn't changed, I can't help feeling that the food, particularly, is becoming as bland as the corporate identity.
Much as I try I cannot for the life of me understand the reasoning. I have asked other Mugg & Bean customers and I get the same answer from everyone. They miss the cosiness, exclusivity and uniqueness of the old Mugg & Bean.
It is hard not to come to the conclusion that Mugg & Bean, under its new owner, has changed for the sake of change. Change, sommer because.
Just as Toyota dumped its "Everything Keeps Going Right" tag some years ago for absolutely no reason other than the Toyota people getting bored with it. It's got a new one now; in fact, it's had it for years. Do you know the new one is?
And then there was Standard Bank with that wonderful "Simpler. Better. Faster." That was changed a few years ago and I'm willing to bet that there aren't many people who can recall the new tag.
It is interesting how often change for the sake of change happens. Of course, the marketing brains behind these changes always quote volumes of research showing that change was absolutely necessary and if, in the unlikely event that it was, they tend to replace it with munch the same sort of thing, only not nearly as clever. And, let's face it, everyone in the industry knows that research can always somehow be made to support somebody's "big idea". Did exactly the same
Castrol did exactly the same thing when it dumped Boet & Swaer and replaced them with Castrol technicians sliding around on oil patches like demonic skaters. Thankfully, it dropped that idea pretty quickly.
And, worst of all, was the decision by a new ad agency to do away with the iconic "it's not inside, it on top" for something completely lacking in creative thought and unmemorable, simply because it did not want to admit that its predecessors were actually quite good at what it did.
It is no surprise that so many billions of rands are wasted on bad marketing in this country every year. On marketing driven by ego and boredom, driven entirely by what companies want to say and without any regard for what customers want to hear.For more: