Is a good cup of coffee good enough?
Brand design studio Without has challenged the perception of profit with the launch of Social Impact Coffee, a new specialty roastery that believes every cup of coffee shouldn’t just taste good, but do good.
With people seeking purpose-driven brands, while wise to greenwashing and the platitudes of corporate philanthropy, Without helped Social Impact Coffee to stand out in a saturated market of feel-good claims with a brand that champions accountability by seeing people as profit, not cost.
As a community-interest company (CIC), Social Impact Coffee, which supplies corporate clients, reinvests 65% of profits back into local community causes, with a transparent business model that includes coffee beans from regenerative farms, zero waste cafés and farmers paid above the Fairtrade price.
Adrian Evans, founder of Social Impact Coffee, says: “Progressive businesses realise that success isn’t just return on investment; they’re tapped into a real human value shift where people – consumers and workforces – seek purpose. If every bean sold has a positive impact, the more we can scale, the better for everyone. When Without suggested we see jobs not just as an expense, but as profit, it really turned on a light.”
Taking radical transparency as a central theme, Without built the identity on simplicity and openness, with a monochrome palette, clean type and bespoke suite of universal icons. Stripped back to the basics, this is a brand with nothing (and nowhere) to hide.
“When 65% of profits go to good causes, profit shouldn’t be a dirty word,” says Philip Koh, Director of Strategy at Without. “We were presented with a radical blueprint of how business could be run. So instead of looking at this as a charity, we applied the rigour and accountability of business, to the business of doing good.”
To challenge fluffy CSR claims, the brand hones in on accountability – an honest presentation of facts and numbers that illustrate an undeniably better outcome compared to the alternatives, while staying humble and positive.
Inspired by Social Impact Coffee’s eye catching social contribution, a logo built from the % symbol builds accountability into the heart of the brand. Bespoke icons (built on a 65º angle grid) are used to illustrate bespoke client blends, tasting notes or key points brand statements. The overall tone is transparency, accountability and impact.
“Social Impact Coffee offers a radically different approach to business, but a literal approach to disruption or activism would be exhausting, especially as the brand needs to work in a range of environments for staff who may just want a lovely cup of coffee,” says Roly Grant, Creative Director at Without. “Working closely with the Social Impact Coffee team – even roasting our own blend – helped us create a brand that uses the language of coffee craft to convey a wider mission.”
Social Impact Coffee has already secured a listing with a global technology company. Evans says: “When lots of people do small things multiple times – like drink coffee – you get a big impact, but I didn’t want to settle for what everyone else does. I chose to work with Without because they look to disrupt and do things differently – the outcome of that is real conviction.”
Social Impact Coffee’s new branding will roll out across all coffee packaging, merchandise, digital assets, social channels, and physical spaces throughout 2023.
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