I recently received an email from Vida e Caffé. It was one of the few they sent out and, as a dedicated fan of both the coffee and the brand, I took the time to read it. In it they announced that they were launching three new tea products.
Was this some kind of April Fools' joke? When Vida launched a few years ago they were an exclusively coffee brand; going as far as putting out communication depicting a cup of tea with a cross through it. Friends of mine even reminded me of the founders apologizing to the tea drinkers in the audience at The Design Indaba shortly after they launched.
They were dedicated to making the best coffee in town, coupled with their trademark energy, mirroring the hit you'd get from your cuppa. It was a brilliant concept and given that you can find a Vida in two countries and 52 locations, it was a runaway success.
Why this departure? Vida as a brand was founded on a really strong and clear purpose. Are they just chasing a few extra Rand with this latest introduction and if so, will tea impact their brand in any way? Will they soon be competing with The Westcliff serving scones and cucumber sandwiches for high tea as well?
Vida are not alone; a lot of businesses are losing their mojo. We could blame those heady days we experienced before the recession hit us. Businesses had it so good that many forgot why they started doing business in the first place. Money was easy and brands got a bit loose and unfocused, often forgetting the core idea that spawned their existence. After getting knocked down in the recession, businesses are getting up off the canvas, a bit like Ricky Hatton after his annihilation at the fast hands of Manny Pacquiao. They need to get back to basics, start being true to their origins and honour their purpose.
Purpose is probably the single most important aspect that a business should be focused on today. Vision, mission and values I hear you say? They're a bit 90's to be honest. I took a cursory glance across the values of some of SA's top 20 companies and, frankly, they are all alike. Worse yet, they are largely uninspiring; they lack any soul, energy or focus.
Think of some brands that have been successful over long periods of time. Coke remains a power brand precisely because it has never wavered from its purpose of bringing a sense of optimism to life, remaining true across multiple campaign lines from 'Can't beat the feeling' of the late 80's to the current 'Open Happiness.'
This consistency is what builds brands. Contrast this with Standard Bank, which has lurched from 'Simpler, Better Faster' to 'Inspired. Motivated. Involved' to the current 'Moving Forward'.
Another brand that lost its way over the past decade is Castle Lager. The beer that everyone drank in the 90's, suddenly became 'the beer that my dad used to drink'. It's a brand that's once again back to prominence thanks to it re-discovering what lies at its very core: the beer that everyone gets together around. In doing this, it's once again growing healthily.
Strong brands live for a long time, they see out recessions, natural disasters, and dictatorial CEO's. They do this because they were founded with a clear and true sense of purpose.
And Vida, you once told me you were all about coffee, don't forget that.