When we met Equator Coffees co-founder and CEO Helen Russell, shortly after Pattern launched two years ago, she and her life partner and co-founder Brooke McDonnell had a cult following for the company they started in 1995.
They had started opening retail stores in 2013, fulfilling their dream of providing consumers with high quality, positive impact coffee, and sourcing ingredients in a way that improves the lives of their partners and producers. Their commitment to sustainability and social responsibility, key principles of their business, was good for the world and their customers. To say they’ve come a long way since they started out at a garage in Marin County, Calif., Is an understatement.
But they wanted to go further, so they turned to our e-commerce and digital design agency for help.
Always true to themselves, Russell and McDonnell have built their brand around their strong personal ethics. Named the first LGBT-owned small business of the year by the US Small Business Administration in 2016, the founders opened stores in communities they bet would benefit from the upside a local cafe could bring. We were delighted to take on the task of sharing their incredible story with the masses.
We tend to work with companies run by founders, many of which maintain B-Corp certified status, like Equator and award-winning skin care startup Kinship. We have found a way that helps brands use design to differentiate themselves on the internet, including EO products. The visually striking site we created for EO just before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic already had dwindling stocks before quarantined consumers sought out organic and natural self-care products and hand sanitizer. with ferocity.
Helping brands succeed in the experience economy – which has become increasingly web-based thanks to Covid-19 – has a lot to do with creating happy experiences for consumers to engage and fall in love with brands. Using design to differentiate brands on the internet and generate fans drives sales.
For Equator Coffees, for example, we’ve created a modern digital destination that connects the storytelling around Equator’s core values of sustainability and investing in the common good with an inclusive coffee exploration and buying experience. and accessible. The launch last November saw a 61% increase in overall conversion rate, a 200% increase in mobile conversion rates, and a 97% increase in overall revenue. Stories around coffee, community and culture have been woven into the characteristics of Michelin-starred chefs and named James Beard like Thomas Keller, Dominique Crenn and Tyler Florence, who have designed cafes for good causes. Redesigning the Equator DTC experience with a beautiful digital brand aesthetic, a strong focus on the Chefs collection, and a constant narrative around a positive impact has boosted e-commerce and in-store sales.
When I opened Pattern with my partner Isaac Newton, we knew we wanted to focus primarily on emerging brands that were startups or digital natively. Helping them tell their stories and grow through a digital lens was our ambition. We fully grasped the power that a well-crafted experience design can play in e-commerce as a differentiator.
We were right. And after working with over 30 clients over the past two years, we have the metrics to prove it.
Many of our clients, including Equator, are very involved in performance marketing. They focus on a certain subset of metrics, like conversion rates and return on ad spend, to gauge success. Being long on brand storytelling dramatically increases reach and engagement. We think of performance marketing as e-commerce. We knew in real time what was working for Equator and what was not, and we were able to quickly pivot.
For Equator, we quickly realized that what worked well for them was to focus on a particular age group. Not so much demographic but psychographic with a narrow set of interests and pursuits. Really delving into the characteristics of Ecuadorian clients, who tend to be active lifestyle enthusiasts in the creative class with passionate pursuits like surfing and biking, was a game-changer. It provided a funnel system for storytelling that got people engaged in the Equator brand story in a holistic way. Not at all something that advertisers can do in expensive 30 second spots.
Brands that tell great, authentic stories and don’t pretend find their audience fairly quickly. In just seconds of grabbing the attention of consumers who click on their social platforms, Authentic Storytelling allows sponsored posts to appear and operate. TikTok has just started its advertising business and is already proving to be a great way for brands to reach younger cohorts. Most consumers, especially Gen Y and Gen Z, learn about brands through social media so they know exactly what they want when they shop. They buy with precision, become curious or loyal online. Getting in and out of stores quickly is what consumers want more than ever due to the pandemic. Ecommerce is the backbone that connects brands to consumers, and contextualizing messages through digital design is the way to do it.
It turns out that truth and publicity really go together.