A Branding Case Study
Hot Numbers is a Cambridgeshire based coffee company comprising three retail outlets, a roastery and a wholesale business supplying coffee beans, coffee making equipment, technical support and staff training to other businesses in the region.
It was set up about ten years ago by Simon Fraser. Simon had started his career as an engineer in the Cambridge University engineering faculty, however music was his passion, specifically the saxophone. And so, encouraged by a positive thinking workshop in the faculty, he chose to travel for a year and focus on his music. During this trip, and particularly during time spent in Melbourne, Australia, where he encountered a sophisticated coffee culture, he discovered another passion: coffee.
Over the next few years these passions, and his engineering experience, evolved into the idea for the business that became Hot Numbers, a marriage of music, coffee and engineering.
From the outset Hot Numbers would bring all of these components together: a superlative coffee experience + great music (mostly relaxed jazz) + the skills and expertise to help coffee makers get the most out of their complicated and expensive coffee machines.
The Brand Identity
The name, Hot Numbers, was adopted from an independent record shop in Cambridge where Simon had bought hundreds of records before it had closed down. As something of a tribute to the shop which had fuelled his passion for music, and as a name that reflected the values of the new business (hot drinks + cool music + hot roasting coffee beans) Hot Numbers seemed like the obvious choice. The challenge then was to create a visual identity that reflected these components and could act as a distinctive and memorable identifier, enabling the new business to rapidly establish its presence and to start to build long term awareness amongst its customer base.
The Hot Numbers Logo
This simple yet striking logo is a sophisticated mash-up of a circular cup, a circular LP and the hopper from the roastery; the core brand colours of red and black echo the heat of the roasting, whilst the black echoes the vinyl of an LP and the freshly made coffee in a cup.
It is a simple enough visual image to be easily applied in multiple formats and at an infinite range of scales; critically, it also totally unique and sufficiently arresting to become, over time, the symbol through which customers recognise and remember Hot Numbers.
The role of brand identity for Hot Numbers
Simon freely admits that he is not a professional marketeer and has learned as the business has developed. Initially, he was somewhat sceptical of the importance of branding but he now recognises that it has become an essential part of Hot Numbers’ success, adding value in multiple ways throughout the business.
For instance, applied to high quality sustainable takeaway packaging, in a way that makes it visible to a wider audience than simply the purchaser, the Hot Numbers name becomes visible to a wider group of customers and potential customers.
Applied to premium quality materials (sustainable boxes/bags/cups etc) it reinforces the quality of the products made and supplied by Hot Numbers.
Applied to the secondary packaging that protects products in transport, such as coffee beans being supplied by the wholesale business, it suggests a professionalism that plain packaging fails to communicate. Similarly, when applied to the outer packaging for retail deliveries, it provides the recipient with a more enjoyable experience: how much better for anticipation to build on opening a branded package than opening a generic plain envelope or box?
Internally too the brand identity has an important role to play: managers in the business use the identity as a focal point for staff training, asking team members to describe what it means to them and using its distinctive character to bring Hot Numbers’ unique brand values, and what that means for behaviour and customer experience, to life. And, as the identity plays a subtle but distinctive role throughout the business, marking objects as diverse as aprons, coffee machines and bags of coffee, it is a relevant and effective reminder of what it is that makes Hot Numbers distinctive and appealing.
Hot Numbers demonstrates how a food service business can develop a meaningful and attractive brand proposition, and how a brand identity can help express that proposition in a distinctive and memorable way across the business. NaturePac is proud to supply Hot Numbers with high quality sustainable branded cups, boxes, trays, bags which all contribute to the business continuing to grow. And, as it develops, we hope to continue to work in partnership with Hot Numbers creating and developing branded sustainable packaging that reinforces the quality of customer experience and which ensures that that experience is uniquely associated with the Hot Numbers’ brand.
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