SF Bay Coffee
Overview and approach
Established 40 years ago, San Francisco Bay Gourmet Coffee has become a powerful force in the coffee industry known for its innovation, quality, and care for sustainable practices. The family behind the brand and entity responsible for the company’s social programs—The Rogers Family—was in search of a partner to change the way the brand was positioned in the industry. The goal was to breathe energy into a 40-year-old company while remaining true to their roots. That’s when Honey came into the picture: we packed our bags, traveled the world, and ushered in a name, identity, communications plan and packaging for years to come.
Over three generations, San Francisco Bay Gourmet Coffee (last time we’ll use that name) accumulated several renditions of logos, packaging designs, and a system of 6 different websites—resulting in customer confusion. Our challenge was to design a brand for the modern consumer, imbue brand consistency (including a system of tools to ensure consistency moving forward), and focus their messaging to tell the rich story of the company.
Importantly, we needed to respect the customers that have been a part of that 40-year story. Working with a well-established, highly-recognizable brand is an exercise in restraint – in accomplishing all the goals associated with a new brand without alienating a loyal set of customers.
Our Process | Discovery
This project required one of the more involved discovery processes we’ve worked on. Analyzing over 80 surveys from employees and family gave us valuable insight to begin our creative process while two key trips emphasized the vast complexities associated with getting high-quality coffee into the cup in an ethical and responsible manner.
One trip headed into the mountains of Tapachula in Chiapas, Mexico—highlighting the company’s dedication to sustainability, farm management, product quality, and respect for the social net that makes up the communities surrounding the coffee industry.
The other trip sent our team to Kona, Hawaii—giving us the opportunity to learn about SF Bay’s approach to innovation and pushing the boundaries of what’s currently possible in the coffee farming industry.
Our Process | Foraging
We immersed ourselves within all facets of the company, where we learned about their farming practices, social programs, and commitment to innovation. We met some hardworking individuals that are not just thinking about a single company, but are dedicated to improving the coffee industry.
What we learned on these trips is that coffee is so much more than a morning ritual, it’s a way of life for so many people, and the passion and hard work that goes into one cup of coffee is a labor of love.
Once home, our team dove deeper into research on the coffee industry and consumer markets. Before we could form a strong foundation for our strategy, we performed a full audit of SF Bay Coffee’s suite of brand assets, 6 websites, lines of packaging, and the messaging that spanned across these.
First on the list was the name-change; everyone from the family to the consumer referred to the company as “SF Bay” or “SF Bay Coffee.” Removing the modifier and abbreviating San Francisco to the colloquial “SF” strengthened the brand and allowed for more consistency in usage.
With a fresh name “SF Bay Coffee” and a few months of research under our belt, we approached the overarching brand. The way SF Bay produces coffee wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of its parent company, The Rogers Family Company, and we felt it was important to communicate that. We built the brand story on the Rogers Family’s commitment to “growing the largest family in the world”—a goal focused on improving the life of each farmer they work with and strengthening the social net of every community they work in. Their high standard for coffee demands a dedication to the details in their processes and care for the environment; pushing the boundaries of innovation while they lay the groundwork for the future of a coffee industry that will support a global family for years to come.
Our people are at the heart of everything we do. From our farmers, to our roasters, to you-creating and enjoying a great cup of coffee has been our goal from day one.
We push the boundaries of innovation and seek to create a better future for the coffee industry-one that will sustainably support our global family for years to come.
The SF Bay Way
Our job is never finished, and we love that. We constantly seek to improve our processes, reduce our waste, better our farming practices, and create the best products.
100% Family Owned
When we founded SF Bay Coffee in 1979, we started out to become experts on all things coffee. Two generations later, our family's focus has evolved and we believe our responsibility goes beyond simply creating quality products. Today, we are deeply committed to growing the largest family in the world while improving the life of every farmer and community we cross paths with. We put this vision to practice in all aspects of our daily work, knowing that our ultimate purpose is to do the right thing.
With the strategy set and research at hand, we eagerly dove into concepting. The concept created for the new SF Bay Coffee brand was highly influenced by what we experienced on the trips to Tapachula and Kona. We drew endless inspiration from the textures of the regions we visited, the hand-lettered signage painted by artisans, vibrant colors from buildings on and around the farm, and so much more.
There are so many layers that makeup SF Bay Coffee and the design needed to reflect the depth of each aspect of the company. Texture speaks to the hardworking farmers and handcrafted approach to the coffee business. Color speaks to the diverse regions and cultures in which SF Bay Coffee is grown. Hand lettering is directly inspired by the hand-painted signs we encountered on our trips.
This rebrand came with the advantage of working directly with a mature supply chain that had decades of SKUs, printing techniques, and product applications; emphasizing the need for flexibility in the design process.
We strategized a modular letter-system with a systematic grid to allow the letterforms to be rearranged and stacked to adapt to various applications. It was important to think through the significant number of logo applications to ensure legibility and ease of recognition.
Including “est. 1979” highlights SF Bay’s credibility and expertise in the coffee industry. The paint texture reinforces SF Bay’s commitment to producing high quality, artisan products.
Our goal for packaging was to create a recognizable, consistent, more elevated look across all of SF Bay’s products. Since there are a wide range of farming regions and custom blends, we wanted to be sure we were educating consumers on the origin, qualities, and tasting notes of the end product and, in doing so, highlight SF Bay’s value on transparency throughout their process. Each blend, Fog Chaser for example, utilizes a unique color combination which is applied to each packaging form. This creates a cohesive blend family that is bold and easily recognizable to the consumer.
Each aspect of this project represents thousands of people who farm, roast, taste, and innovate every day with pride. Throughout this process, we focused on the Rogers Family’s long-term vision and created what the next forty years will look like for SF Bay Coffee.