From Coffee to Cocktails: A Classy Branding Combo
Published on November 30, 2021, at 8:59 p.m.
by Elise Luoma
From finding the best vanilla sweet cream cold brew to sampling the strongest espresso martini, coffee and cocktails have taken over the beverage industry of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Branding is a tactic small businesses in the coffee and cocktail enterprise are employing to draw in customers. Seasonal menus and social media promotion contribute to how businesses are differentiating and promoting themselves.
Tuscaloosa’s offering of swanky cocktail bars, trendy coffee shops and rotating food trucks around The University of Alabama’s campus contributes to its business-friendly atmosphere.
Monarch Espresso Bar, nestled in downtown Tuscaloosa, opened after owners Audrey and Paul Vermilyea created a Kickstarter campaign. Shortly thereafter, the two built their business as a “community-powered coffee shop.”
“Creativity is part of what we do, and people expect for us to put out exciting and high-quality offerings often,” Audrey Vermilyea said. “People like to experiment, and a coffee drink is the perfect, low-stress way to do that. Plus, it allows our team to be collaborative and push the limits of what we can do,” she noted.
Monarch offers holiday-themed drinks and hand-baked pastries; it also hosts events. Vermilyea added that these features allow people to experience coffee shops in a unique way. As a result, Monarch is able to attract larger audiences. Agility PR outlines the importance of capitalizing on holiday themes and holiday hashtags to increase PR outreach. Monarch’s seasonal menus echo these PR tips. By maximizing unique social media opportunities, Monarch is able to generate impressions within Tuscaloosa’s coffee scene.
The digital space coffee shops use is continuously growing. For this reason, coffee shops must connect with customers within seconds, according to Perfect Daily Grind. Instagram is a key way businesses create eye-catching posts, advertise coffee specials and draw consumers in.
In the coffee food truck scene, Kyrsten Hill, social media coordinator of Joyful Java, highlighted the importance of giveaways. “It’s a really nice way to connect with our followers, and it shows how much coffee really does bring people joy,” she noted. According to AdEspresso, Instagram giveaways are a great way to jump-start businesses relationships with current and potential customers. Even further, giveaways allow businesses to increase consumer engagement.
Hill’s exploration of future coffee trends and potential customers led her to predict, “With the recent rise of work-from-home and remote jobs, I would imagine that we’ll be seeing more people taking advantage of coffee shops as a way to get out of the house when needed and do work in a comfortable environment.” The visual variety of working in a coffee shop can help increase productivity and attracts a broad audience.
The cocktail bar craze has influenced Session Cocktails’ popularity and quality of drinks. According to Advanced Mixology, some of the hottest trends feature mixologists and their creative talents on social media.
Hunter Wiggins, owner of Session Cocktails, decided to open his bar after reading “The Bar Book” by Jeffery Morgenthaler and learning about the cocktail revolution. He wanted to make “true cocktail drinks” and have a “consistent quality drink in the downtown [Tuscaloosa] area.”
Regarding social media strategies, Wiggins explained that Instagram is the “best way of communicating what our culture [is] and [what] our view of hospitality is to the public. The thing that has helped us the most in Tuscaloosa has been our philanthropy work.”
Wiggins further highlighted how the Cocktails for Cause program has allowed Session to create relationships and build rapport with local charities around the city. Implementing a cocktail series, throwing special events and going “behind the scenes” are some of Upserve’s digital bar promotion ideas that align with Session Cocktails’ business practices. Through charity event and rotating drink specials, Session Cocktails has increased its consumer base. According to Wiggins, this consumer base is a high-knit group that support the cocktail bar week in and week out.
Social media promotion, bold branding and unique flavors are the cherries on top of Tuscaloosa’s coffee and cocktail industry.