Working with Brands in Transition

Blackcoffee is a Boston based brand consultancy, partnering with brands in transition to clarify, simplify and amplify brand value. We specialize in brand strategy and brand identity to help brands, big and small solve their most pressing brand and business challenges.

 
$25,000+
 
$200 - $300 / hr
 
2 - 9
 Founded
1994
Show all +
Boston, MA
headquarters
  • 840 Summer Street
    Boston, MA 02127
    United States

Portfolio

Key clients: 

We work with brands, big and small, to solve their most pressing brand and business challenges, including: Acura, AdTech, Boloco, Cannondale, Converse, Earth Footwear, First Act, Fox Sports, Hasbro, Kryptonite, MTV, New Balance, Numark, Nuance, Puma, Reebok, Rockport, Salomon, Showtime Networks, Silverrail, Sperry Top-sider, Swarovski, Timberland, Tonka, Windpact, Winston Flowers, Zildjian

Reviews

Sort by

Brand & Site Creation for Launching Restaurant

"From the beginning of the project, they understood exactly what I was trying to create, and we were always on the same page."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
Oct. 2014 - Sept. 2015
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee provided branding services for a new restaurant, including creating a name and logo. Additionally, they developed the restaurant’s website, menu display, and food packaging design.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Emily DeBonis
Owner, Tahaza Hummus Kitchen
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The brand has had an immediate, positive impact on the success of the restaurant. The main themes developed in the original website and materials continue to guide the brand as a whole through the years. Blackcoffee® fostered a collaborative work environment, leading to multiple future engagements.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company and your position there.

I’m the owner of Tahaza Hummus Kitchen, a fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant. We opened in 2015, and we're in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

For what projects/services did your company hire Blackcoffee®?

Before opening the restaurant, we needed help with building all aspects of our brand. After hiring a restaurant consultant, we knew we needed someone with branding experience to develop our name, logo, and other materials.

What were your goals for this project?

I wanted all aspects of the brand to match my vision of a healthy, clean, welcoming restaurant. Ultimately, I wanted a cohesive brand between the name, space, online appearance, and staff.

SOLUTION

How did you select this vendor?

My restaurant consultant recommended a short list of branding firms, and after interviewing and receiving proposals from three, I knew Blackcoffee was the right option. Right away, it was clear that their energy and passion for my project was higher than the other agencies; I knew they were the perfect fit.

Describe the scope of their work in detail.

Blackcoffee was responsible for developing all aspects of the brand identity. Together, we defined my idea for success and articulated the goals for the project. From there, they developed the name, logo, color scheme, keywords, phrasing, graphic design, and appearance for our food packaging and menus. They also helped with tasks outside of branding, including participating in taste tests, touring the space, and helping with the photo shoot. Additionally, we hired them to create our website after seeing their effectiveness with the previous work.

What was the team composition?

I worked with the two founders and brand expressionists, Mark and Laura. They would occasionally bring other members on board for website creation or other tasks, but I primarily communicated with them.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Can you share any outcomes from the project that demonstrate progress or success?

Aside from how happy I am with the work they delivered, the restaurant was immediately successful, thanks to their assistance. We still have the same core principles and look that we developed before opening, and I credit Blackcoffee for that. Additionally, I love the name they helped us create more every day.

How effective was the workflow between your team and theirs?

Even today, after completing the project, I can call them and still feel like a priority. Blackcoffee was very much a part of our team; they involved themselves in the entire process.

What did you find most impressive about this company?

From the beginning of the project, they understood exactly what I was trying to create and we were always on the same page. This helped us make decisions together later on in the process, which was the most important part, ultimately. I’ve continued to hire them for multiple projects because of this success.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Brand Strategy & Logo for B2B Travel Business

"I would absolutely use them again, which is the highest compliment I can bestow."

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
May 2012 - 2015
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee led a brand strategy engagement, including mission and vision statements. They also iterated a logo and website design.

The Reviewer
 
201-500 Employees
 
London, United Kingdom
Aaron Gowell
CEO, SilverRail Technologies
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The sophisticated logo was well-received, resulting in a strong brand position. Blackcoffee’s ability to turn constructive feedback into high-quality deliverables was a hallmark of their work. Their executives enhanced the project creatively and demonstrated a vested interest in long-term outcomes.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I'm the founder and CEO of a B2B travel technology business, providing the technology that sits behind travel websites to process bookings. We’re specifically in the rail space, figuring out how to incorporate train bookings on major travel websites.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Blackcoffee?

As a startup, we needed help to create a mission statement and a brand strategy.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We hired Blackcoffee to help us with our first branding campaign. It was multifaceted, including strategy and definition around our mission and vision statements. They were part of the early stage of the company, and really helped develop the entire persona.

They also provided the web design in terms of look and feel, logos, and colors. They went through an extensive process to design a logo that reflects the history of rail travel, while bringing it into the modern day and age.

What is the team composition?

We primarily worked with Mark and Laura (Brand Expressionists at Blackcoffee).

How did you come to work with Blackcoffee?

My co-founder introduced me; he’d heard of them through word of mouth.

What is the status of this engagement?

We worked together May 2012–2015.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

We held the number one position in our space, and sold the company for a lot of money. That tells me that they did a very good job creating the brand. I can vouch for their capabilities around startup and early stage B2B companies. I would absolutely use them again, which is the highest compliment I can bestow. 

Our current logo, which has gone through several iterations, still has elements of their initial design. They did an excellent job bringing the theme and the history of rail travel into a modern logo.

How did Blackcoffee perform from a project management standpoint?

Their team was terrific. They were good at proactively managing a client who was super busy and knew nothing about branding. They used a project management tool, but I don't remember the name. We primarily communicated through email and phone.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They demonstrated a deep involvement in the outcome. At a lot of firms, the partners come in and pitch and then hand off the project to a junior team. With Blackcoffee, they were personally invested in the strategy and storyline. I could tell that much thought had gone into it. They were responsive to the nuances of our work. They were good listeners, and felt like a real partner.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I can't think of a specific recommendation off the top of my head.

Any advice for potential customers?

Be open-minded to their unique branding approach. By educating me and bringing me along on the journey, I ended up in a better spot than I would have on a more traditional approach. They had reasons for why the logo was going to look a certain way or why they picked certain colors, and it resulted in a very strong brand.

5.0
Overall Score They're excellent, and I'd use them again in a heartbeat.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They hit every timeline we agreed upon.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They hit their estimate, and didn’t charge us more when we asked them to go in a different direction.
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I’d absolutely recommend them.

Logo & Branding for Braided Home Fashion Firm

"Blackcoffee provided the structure necessary to better interact with customers and understand our own brand."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Mar. 2014 – Oct. 2017
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee designed a logo and coordinated other branding efforts to better appeal to the target audience. Services included conducting customer interviews, crafting a style guide, and developing a website.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Boston, Massachusetts
Meredith Thayer
Creative Director, Colonial Mills Inc
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Blackcoffee’s efforts yielded a much-needed standardization of brand elements, which consumers responded well to. Their thorough research approach and collaborative project management style made for a hassle-free engagement. They leverage their expertise to effectively produce thoughtful solutions.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am the creative director at Colonial Mills, which is a braided rug manufacturer and wholesaler.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Blackcoffee?

We had just revamped our product line, and we needed to do the same with our branding efforts. Later, we returned to them to work on a website.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Blackcoffee’s first objective involved interviewing customers and our internal staff to learn more about our business and determine our current state of branding. They returned with logo designs and new formats of our messaging. They built a solid foundation for us to operate from in terms of what images we use, what words we use, and how we discuss the product with customers.

What is the team composition?

We worked directly with Mark and Laura, their lead brand expressionists.

How did you come to work with Blackcoffee?

They have assisted with tasks for my husband’s business, as well, so he referred them to me.

What is the status of this engagement?

We worked together from March 2014–October 2017.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Our product line and this new brand initiative we released around the same time, and customers responded well to the visual consistency. We have been able to create internal guidelines for our style and our messaging. We are more standardized, and we understand how our brand is supposed to be portrayed. Blackcoffee provided the structure necessary to better interact with customers and understand our own brand.

How did Blackcoffee perform from a project management standpoint?

They were tremendous. We had several phone discussions, email collaborations, and in-person meetings as necessary. Mark and Laura were always available for in-depth discussions and problem-solving meetings. Their accessibility was a great asset.

What did you find most impressive about them?

We hadn’t ever worked with a firm that specialized in branding. In short order, Laura and Mark proved that their expertise was unique. Their knowledge of brands, consumers, and consumers’ responses to those brands is so pronounced. It was fascinating to work with true brand experts.

Are there any areas they could improve?

We experienced one miscommunication regarding the website. It was developed by somebody Blackcoffee had recommended, and the functionality of it didn’t match what we expected. It was a minor complication in the grand scheme of the project. Generally speaking, Blackcoffee was a pleasure to work with.

Any advice for potential customers?

At the end of the day, you know your business and industry best, just as they know their space best. It’s important for both sides to embrace that expertise and strike a balance so that it is best utilized for all parties.

4.5
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Branding, Packaging & Logo Design for Third Party Tech Firm

"Blackcoffee’s work allowed us to communicate better and easier with the consumer and the industry."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee led a rebranding effort to maintain strong name recognition within an industry. Deliverables included a new logo, unique packaging, and standardized messaging across all company materials.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Boston, Massachusetts
Mark Dockser
Managing Director, Dockser Management
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The refreshed branding elements differentiate products and services from competitors, accomplishing the goal of standing out in a crowded space. Blackcoffee’s team goes to great lengths to grasp industry models and audience needs, and they craft thoughtful solutions to address all needs.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am the Managing Director of Dockser Management. I work with companies that are developing new ideas, new products, or new divisions, depending on the size of the company. I help them brainstorm ideas and implement them.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Blackcoffee?

I was doing some consulting work for Adtech Systems, which was looking to rebrand and better position itself in the marketplace. It benefitted from strong brand recognition but was facing a lot of competition from unbranded imports. I recommended Blackcoffee to assist with that rebranding.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Blackcoffee’s discovery phase began with attending a trade show to become more familiar with the consumer base and how other companies in the space market themselves. Interviews followed with the CEO, the head of sales, and customers to learn how the company is perceived in the marketplace. From there, they helped design a new look and logo for the company. The logo was implemented on the website, products, packaging, and other materials. Previously, there had been no branding standards in regard to the color scheme or messaging. Now, the brand was consistent on all fronts. We prioritized the quality, reliability, and stability of the brand—notable differentiators from the unbranded competitors.

What is the team composition?

Adtech supplied one project manager. With Blackcoffee, I worked primarily with their brand expressionists, Mark and Laura.

How did you come to work with Blackcoffee?

I interviewed six agencies ranging from solo practitioners to modest-sized companies like Blackcoffee, along with some larger firms I’ve done work with. Obviously, they had to be skilled, but I was looking for who would be the best fit, so I recommended Blackcoffee.

How much have you invested with them?

The project cost was around $100,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

The bulk of my activity lasted two or three months sometime in 2014.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

The new branding is standardized across all materials and accomplishes the desired differentiation from competitors. Blackcoffee’s work allowed us to communicate better and easier with the consumer and the industry.

How did Blackcoffee perform from a project management standpoint?

I’ve worked with them on other smaller projects, and they’re always incredibly responsive and helpful. Even on a prospective basis, they are receptive and professional.

What did you find most impressive about them?

I appreciate that I’m able to work with the principals, and the work is not pushed off to someone with limited experience.

Are there any areas they could improve?

When there is a fair amount of lead time, they perform really well. Quick turnarounds are not always possible, however, because their resources are limited to only them. They don’t have a junior resource that can assist with time-sensitive projects. The obvious benefit of using them is the quality of their work—but the quality takes time.

Any advice for potential customers?

Much like our onboarding session included the trade show visit, I would recommend a discovery phase that gives them deep insight into your own space. The more information they have about your consumer base, the more helpful they will be.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They are transparent regarding which deadlines are feasible or not.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They were not the lowest bid, but they offered the most professional results.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    They always met expectations with deliverables.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I regularly recommend them.

Brand Strategy for Digital Consultancy Firm

"Thanks to Blackcoffee, our simplified messaging resonates better in the market."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Sep. 2017 — Ongoing
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee leads a 360-degree messaging and rebranding effort, including workshops, client interviews, and brand positioning.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Albany, New York
Ben Elmore
CEO, Twin Technologies, Inc.
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The number of qualified leads have increased markedly since Blackcoffee was first engaged. Their expertise, flexibility, and creativity justify the investment and make them a valuable partner. The team’s quality deliverables set them up for a second engagement.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m CEO of a digital consultancy. We focus on helping businesses accelerate their growth by leveraging emerging trends in digital technology.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Blackcoffee?

We wanted help articulating our market position and services in a succinct way. We’ve solved a lot of challenging problems for disparate organizations over the years. We needed help creating a strong, unifying theme.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They led a series of joint workshops. Blackcoffee took our executive team through a series of exercises to hone in on the key attributes of who we are, and the common challenges that we're solving. They also conducted an interview with about 30 customers and employees. They asked customers to articulate why they engage us and what they expect us to do. From an employee perspective, they asked what types of work they do and why they stay with the company.

The process evolved from just a position statement to a branding exercise. The final product was a brand positioning and an overarching brand redesign that we’ll be releasing early next year. We're already planning on continuing with them on a second engagement because brand positioning and messaging is never static. If the first phase was about identity and position, the second phase is about messaging, brand rollout, and execution.

What is the team composition?

We primarily work with Mark (brand expressionist, Blackcoffee) and Laura (brand expressionist, Blackcoffee). They pull in other members of their team for particular needs, such as copy editing or design.

How did you come to work with Blackcoffee?

A mutual friend suggested that we get together. We had several meetings just to get to know each other as professionals. We interviewed several agencies, but felt most comfortable working on this challenge with Blackcoffee.

How much have you invested with them?

We’ve spent between $75,000–$100,000 to date. We’ll probably spend a similar amount on the second engagement.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in September 2017 and the engagement is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

We've seen an uptick in the number of clients engaging us in second and third sales conversations. Thanks to Blackcoffee, our simplified messaging resonates better in the market.

How did Blackcoffee perform from a project management standpoint?

Mark and Laura have a fantastic attribute of having strong opinions that are loosely held. That means that they will challenge requests when a client says they need a specific thing done. They’re willing to push back and say that the specified action won’t actually deliver results, or will actually be counterproductive to the mission. They will strongly debate in order to make risks clear to the client. However, they’re also cognizant that sometimes a client just needs an action to be done. They’re open to listening to new information, and willing to move their position.

We use a combination of Trello and Excel for project management. Mark and Laura are open to using whatever tool is most conducive for collaboration.

What did you find most impressive about them?

We've spent a fair amount of marketing dollars with brand and creative agencies over the years, and the results have been highly inconsistent. Mark and Laura have a depth of experience and focus on mastering their craft. We’re very pleased with the pool of expertise—in brand identity, positioning, and messaging—that we can tap into. Also, they're not prescriptive in the way that they approach their work. While consultants often make the worst clients for other consultants, we think working with Blackcoffee made both parties smarter.

Any advice for potential customers?

They use a very collaborative process. You need to participate fully in order to get the most out of the experience. Allow yourself to fully engage in the process, even if you had bad experiences with workshops in the past. The results only get better the more that you engage. If that's not a style that works for you, they're probably not the right fit.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They're good at setting expectations, and accelerating to meet deadlines.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    Everything they work on delivers value.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    If any aspect doesn't grab the imagination, they keep working until it does.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I’ve already referred them.

Naming & Branding for Medical Device Company

“Our name and our brands are recognized by the industry, and that's a direct reflection of their work.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
2012 — 2017
Project summary: 

Across several engagements, Blackcoffee named and developed brands for multiple products across various verticals.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Concord, Massachusetts
Member, Medical Device Tech Company
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Blackcoffee’s singular concentration on (and expertise in) branding set them apart from others in the marketing space. Their responsive, customer-centric approach helped them consistently deliver top-quality solutions that have been praised by key players in the industry.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I work for a medical device and drug development technology company.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Blackcoffee?

Originally, we needed help naming a consumer product.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We put together a detailed scope of work and outlined key deliverables and deadlines. All of those important metrics were met, so subsequently, we engaged them several times to build out many of our company’s brands. It was a very good relationship.

What is the team composition?

I worked with two of their brand expressionists directly; both were exceptional. That was always the interface I had.

How did you come to work with Blackcoffee?

I first found them online. We interviewed other firms extensively and found them to be the best. Then, we met several times, negotiated, and discovered whether we wanted to work together.

What is the status of this engagement?

We worked with them from 2012–2017.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

I think they've done a spectacular job. Our name and our brands are recognized by the industry, and that's a direct reflection of their work. Others have asked where we’ve gotten our naming and branding done. It’s exceptional work.

How did Blackcoffee perform from a project management standpoint?

Their project management was excellent. We communicated primarily over the phone, and they were extremely responsive.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They're hyper-focused. They don't do PR and they don't do other aspects of marketing or advertising, so they're experts in naming and brand identity—and that’s a rarity. They only do what they know best.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Have a little faith and trust them.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Website Redesign for Luxury Goods Company

"The team had great execution because they paid attention to detail and were always willing to listen to us."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Jan. - Mar. 2016
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee redesigned a website. The project focused on the site’s search results, homepage, product pages, and checkout function.

The Reviewer
 
201-500 Employees
 
Providence, Rhode Island
Lawrence Davis
VP Marketing, Luxury Brand Holdings
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The new design was user-friendly and received positive feedback. The team was efficient and performed in a consistent manner.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company and your position there.

I am the VP of Marketing at Luxury Brand Holdings, which includes the Ross-Simons and Sidney Thomas jewelry stores.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

For what projects/services did your company hire Blackcoffee?

We engaged them to redesign our website with a modern and user-friendly interface.

What were your goals for this project?

We wanted a world-class update to our design aesthetic that wouldn’t alienate our customer base who, at 62 years old on average, is not overly receptive to change.

SOLUTION

How did you select this vendor?

We looked at the great work that Blackcoffee had done for us in the past as well as their current portfolio.

Describe the project in detail.

They did a page by page redesign of the major customer-facing presentations. This included search results, home page, product pages, and checkout.

What was the team composition?

Marc and Laura (Owners, Blackcoffee) led the design process and were involved in the project’s other components.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Can you share any outcomes from the project that demonstrate progress or success?

The new design was great received favorable customer feedback for its legibility and ease of use. They did a nice job.

How effective was the workflow between your team and theirs?

Both Marc and Laura were very efficient.

What did you find most impressive about this company?

The team had great execution because they paid attention to detail and were always willing to listen to us.

Are there any areas for improvement?

No. They should keep up the great work.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer