Working exclusively with Brands in Transition

Boston's leading brand consultancy — partnering exclusively with brands in transition to clarify, simplify, and amplify brand value. We help brands, big and small, solve their most pressing brand and business challenges through brand strategy and brand identity.

 
$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, both big and small, to solve their most pressing challenges related to their brand and business. These include: 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, Symmons, Timberland, Tonka, Windpact, Winston Flowers, Zildjian

ohDEER | rebranding Image

ohDEER | rebranding

A FRANCHISE LOOKING TO INCREASE OVERALL MARKET SHARE TO BECOME THE PREFERRED CHOICE FOR DEER, TICK, AND MOSQUITO CONTROL.

We began by reassessing the brand's value proposition to develop a strategy backed by a single message. Our goal was to present a clear and compelling proposition that was understood and valued equally by both customers and potential franchisees. This allowed the brand to speak in one voice for

consistent communications, both internally and externally.

We then redesigned the brand identity to align the new brand promise and effectively communicate that promise to better manage expectations. The new unified message and brand look & feel now extends across the franchise base allowing customers to better identify the brand and differentiate the value it provides.

PREMARRA | brand naming Image

PREMARRA | brand naming

A PROOF OF CONCEPT BRAND GETS A PREMIUM ITALIAN BRAND NAME.

This early-stage startup approached Blackcoffee with only the vision for creating a premium dress shirt brand that would simplify the retail process by removing the middlemen. However, the company needed a name.

While consumers believe the name Premarra to be Italian word for premium, it is, in fact, a fabricated name designed to conjure up such thoughts.

This gives the brand familiarity in the descriptive sense while providing a foreign novelty that underscores the authenticity of manufacturing origin and technique.


 

Get the full story >

https://www.blackcoffee.com/work/premarra

Boloco | Branding

BOLOCO LETS PEOPLE CREATE THEIR OWN BURRITOS, SO WE BUILD A FLEXIBLE BRAND STRATEGY AND IDENTITY SYSTEM, ALLOWING THE RESTAURANT CHAIN TO MIX IT UP WHILE STATING ON BRAND.

While the core message, and guarantee, remains constant across its stores, Boloco has an in-house design team and creative culture, which makes for a very dynamic brand. They needed a strategy and identity that allowed for consistent
 communication

across different stores in different markets, all designed by different people.

At the core of this identity, lives the Boloco font, which allows anyone, anywhere within Boloco to recreate the distinctive Boloco look— Always a little off. Always on Brand.

Reviews

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Brand Identity for Sports Tech Startup

"Their brand development skills are impressive."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Q1 2011 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee assisted with the formation of a brand identity for a technology startup. They helped with naming, logo design, and overall strategy. 

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Leesburg, Virginia
Maurice Kelly
Cofounder, Windpact
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The team at Blackcoffee provided the client with strong branding materials that make their mission as a company clear to potential buyers. They were communicative, transparent, and prompt in their delivery. 

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I the co-founder and chief of product innovation at a technology startup. We aim to address the concussion issues in sports and athletics. We developed an air diffuse apparatus that goes inside helmets and adjusts based on the velocity of impact.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenges were you trying to address with Blackcoffee?

We brought Blackcoffee on when we first started our business. They helped with branding and strategy. 

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They helped with the branding, logo design, strategy, and more for us. They helped us establish ourselves as an ingredient brand, meaning our products are included as components of larger products sold by host brands. We are to helmets what Intel is to computers. 

What is the team composition?

We worked with two people primarily: Mark (Founder & Brand Expressionist) and Laura (Founder & Brand Expressionist). 

How did you come to work with Blackcoffee?

I found them on a social media platform, I believe Quora. 

How much have you invested in them?

We spent between $300,000–$500,000. 

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in early-2011, and we have an ongoing relationship. They act as our marketing department. 

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

It’s very easy to describe the brand now, and people get it right away. Our logo shows the product itself and the names they’ve helped us come up with concisely explain complex physics problems. For example, our signature product, the air diffuse apparatus, is called Crash Cloud. 

If we didn’t have their expertise, we wouldn’t have the strong brand identity that we do. We’ve been able to market ourselves on the products that we’re a part of because of our branding strategy. 

How did Blackcoffee perform from a project management standpoint?

Their communication was very open and transparent. They told us what we needed to hear, not just what we wanted to hear. They met all their deadlines and produced everything we asked of them. Their work was also concise and digestible. 

What did you find most impressive about them?

Their brand development skills are impressive. That’s one of their strong suits. 

Are there any areas they could improve?

I don’t think so. They’ve always come through whenever we hit a roadblock.

Do you have any advice for potential customers? 

Just hang on for the ride, and it will all come together. 

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

Branding for Local Burrito Restaurant Chain

"I’ve recommended Blackcoffee® to others because I think they do great work."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Feb. 2012 - July 2012
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee® provided branding strategy and recommendations for a fast-casual burrito restaurant chain looking to move into a new market. They created a new tagline, among other tasks.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Boston, Massachusetts
CFO, Burrito Restaurant Chain
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The client was satisfied with Blackcoffee®’s work in better communicating their brand to consumers. The team invested time in meeting with stakeholders, customers, and focus groups before supplying any recommendations. Their ease to work with makes them a regular referral.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the former CFO of a fast-casual burrito chain.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Blackcoffee®?

We were taking our concept from our home market and bring it to a secondary market. We felt there was some risk in plopping our brand in a secondary market and expecting to see the same results as we have in building the brand in our home market over years and years. 

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Blackcoffee® took on our branding as we looked to make this move. We asked them to make recommendations on our name, our brand elements, and how the brand is communicated internally and externally. The goal was to improve the brand in simply how we describe the concept even in its moniker and how the brand looked and felt from a consumer standpoint. For example, after consulting with focus groups, Blackcoffee® changed our tagline to help people get our brand more quickly. 

What is the team composition?

I worked with Mark and Laura (Brand Expressionists®), but I’m unsure how many were working on our project behind the scenes.

How did you come to work with Blackcoffee®?

They were a Boston-based firm, and we were a Boston-based restaurant. I’m not sure how the connection was made.

What is the status of this engagement?

The project took place eight years ago and took about 4–6 months. It ended when we entered that secondary market in the summer of 2012.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

I don’t remember setting KPIs. We were pleased with the work they did and with the new tagline in helping consumers recognize what our brand meant. 

How did Blackcoffee® perform from a project management standpoint?

They were really easy to work with. The team was very communicative and at the end of the day delivered a good product.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They spent a lot of upfront time trying to understand who we were and what our vision was. They talked with stakeholders and checked with consumers how they thought of our brand. Their work was very methodical. I’ve recommended Blackcoffee® to others because I think they do great work.

Are there any areas they could improve?

No, quite honestly. They performed at a pretty high level and delivered a good end product. I’d recommend them to others.

Any advice for potential customers?

Be in constant communication and set expectations upfront. If you do that, you’ll get through the work fine.

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

Branding for Children's Nonprofit Organization

"I was impressed by how fully invested they became in the process."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
Sept. 2019 - Jan. 2020
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee® provided branding services for a children's nonprofit organization. The team helped refine the company's mission and identity, creating clearer messaging.

The Reviewer
 
1,001-5,000 Employees
 
Southborough, Massachusetts
Michele Spilberg Hart
Director of Marketing, Children's Nonprofit Organization
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The refined messaging and mission help the organization stand out among the industry. Blackcoffee® provides reliable services in a timely and collaborative manner, taking into account the goals of the client. The team is hard-working, creative, and knowledgeable.

The client submitted this review online.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company and your position there.

I was the Director of Marketing and Communications at The New England Center for Children. I led the organization’s marketing strategy and developed communications to drive brand awareness and increase support for programs.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

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

We hired BlackCoffee during strategic planning to help us refine our mission and vision, and to develop the organization's first corporate values.

What were your goals for this project?

The organization has been around for 44 years, and had many executives who had worked for the company for 30+ years. This home-grown mentality, while valuable from a historical perspective, prevented significant growth in how outsiders view the organization. We knew that bringing in outside consultants would help to underscore the need for fresh corporate values, mission and vision.

SOLUTION

How did you select this vendor?

I searched on Google and took recommendations from colleagues. We interviewed three firms. We were impressed by BlackCoffee's honesty - they believed we didn't need a new logo or brand look but rather clearer messaging. BlackCoffee also had a fresh way of looking at mission and vision in a way that is customer-focused rather than organization-focused.

Describe the scope of their work in detail.

BlackCoffee met with us three times before we hired them. Both Laura and Mark answered our questions in person, by phone and by email. They were open with us and knew that, as a nonprofit, we had to limit the scope of our work. BlackCoffee outlined the mission, vision and values project.

They conducted a full-day onsite workshop with 50 of our directors. The proposed mission, vision and values were reviewed by our strategic facilitators- myself and another Director - to clarify any misconceptions. BlackCoffee then presented the draft to our executive team, who had minor comments. BlackCoffee took into account the feedback and presented the final mission, vision, and values.

Overall, the process was seamless. The expectations on both sides were met, and Mark and Laura were very easy to work with. They also knew when to push back to help us get the results we were after.

What was the team composition?

I worked with the two firm directors.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

The revised mission and vision is quite successful. In the past, our mission had been focused on the organization rather than the impact we hoped to have in the world. As a nonprofit, impact is critical for support. The organization has never had a set of corporate values before and under BlackCoffee's guidance we were able to identify clearly what the values are.

How effective was the workflow between your team and theirs?

The workflow was seamless. We had a collaborative relationship with mutual respect. My opinion and feedback mattered, and I respected the knowledge and experience of BlackCoffee to guide us.

What did you find most impressive about this company?

I was impressed by how fully invested they became in the process. BlackCoffee took the time to learn about our organization, spoke at length with our CEO in person and by phone, and listened to what we needed. They were respectful while also pushing us when needed, and provided clear explanations and examples to make their points.

Are there any areas for improvement?

With full honesty, I cannot think of anything they could have done better. I am pleased with the results of our contract with them.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    Always easy to schedule time by phone or in person.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They worked within the scope of our budget.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    Stellar quality. We had a fully developed mission, vision, and values statement at the end of our contract, which was approved by more than 2 execs.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I would recommend BlackCoffee to anyone looking to clarify messaging.

Logo Design for Elections Software Company

“More than any team I’ve ever worked with, they really lean into the process.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Feb. 2010 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee handled an end-to-end logo design process for a voting system company, working through an extensive brainstorming and drafting process before delivering final company and product logos.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Boston, Massachusetts
Larry Moore
Founder, Clear Ballot
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Feedback on the logos has been overwhelmingly positive, completely satisfying project requirements and stakeholders. The Blackcoffee team was methodical and invested in the process, demonstrating an extraordinary level of commitment to the project’s long-term success.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I was the owner and founder of a voting system company at the time that I worked with Blackcoffee.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Blackcoffee?

We needed a partner to help us come up with a logo design that included a specific reference to the capabilities that we had come up with.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Their team brainstormed, drafted, and delivered the final logo for our company. It is a very clean rendering of an eyeball and in the center of the eye, there is a checkmark that indicates the vote, representing the ability to see your vote which was our main innovation.

The methodology that we went through in initially developing the logo was quite extensive. Mark (Design Expressionist) actually handled the treatment of the process and came up with a 40–50-page booklet of annotated design types. That included gathering requirements and iterating on several ideas to reach the final version for our company logo and several product logos as well.

What is the team composition?

We worked with three members of their team: Mark, Laura (Design Expressionist), and a designer who worked under them.

How did you come to work with Blackcoffee?

A friend of mine had worked with them previously and recommended their team based on his experience.

What is the status of this engagement?

The partnership started around February 2010, and we still work together in an ongoing capacity.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

The quality of their work was terrific. They follow a very rigorous methodology and come up with incredibly clean designs. We use their work in pretty much every aspect of our business and couldn’t be happier with the image that they have been able to provide to us.

How did Blackcoffee perform from a project management standpoint?

Their management of the project made the whole process pretty enjoyable for us. We had a very thoughtful, but intellectually aggressive relationship that has really pushed us forward and helped to provide honest, clear feedback to each other at all times.

What did you find most impressive about them?

More than any team I’ve ever worked with, they really lean into the process. Their ability to conceptualize ideas that are difficult to explain was extremely impressive and, in my opinion, pretty rare for companies like them. They bring a lot of experience to that process and are able to ask a lot of good questions as a result.

Are there any areas they could improve?

There’s always some room for improvement, but they are great listeners, so I don’t think there has ever been an instance where I disagreed with them on something and we didn’t get it resolved. I have complete confidence in them.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Don’t come in with preconceived notions about what you want the final product to look like. You’ll have a much better overall result if the process evolves through your interaction with them.

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

Branding for Plumbing Product Manufacturer

"They strike a good balance of listening to us and pushing us to think differently."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Aug. 2019 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee created a positioning strategy to refresh a plumbing manufacturer’s brand. Their next task is to create branding materials such as a style guide, graphical elements, and brand books.

The Reviewer
 
201-500 Employees
 
Braintree, Massachusetts
CMO, Plumbing Product Manufacturer
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The team’s work has met the client's expectations so far. Blackcoffee balances quality and expertise with the interests of 12 internal stakeholders. Their small team holds a high level of expertise and experience, making for a smooth, well-informed workflow.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the CMO of a plumbing product manufacturer. We make showers, lavatories, and kitchen faucets as well as other plumbing products. 

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Blackcoffee®?

We last refreshed our brand in 2007. It started feeling dated and no longer aligned with our business strategy going forward. We felt that we needed to update our corporate positioning and strategy to communicate who we are today and what we’re aspiring to be in the future.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

The brand and positioning strategy is the main thing we hired Blackcoffee to develop. Eventually, they’ll create documents related to that, such as style guides, brand booklets, logo tweaks, graphic design elements, and more.

What is the team composition?

We work with three people.

How did you come to work with Blackcoffee®?

I used a variety of methods to look for companies for this brand refresh. I used connections to identify potential fits based on needs, but I found Blackcoffee online. I read their reviews on Clutch, but the biggest thing that convinced me was a video done by Mark and Laura (Brand Expressionists) at an ad school. It described how they approached the challenge of developing a brand strategy in a way that resonated with me, so I reached out to them.

How much have you invested with them?

We have a budget of $250,000, and we’ve spent about 80% so far.

What is the status of this engagement?

The project started in August 2019. Things have slowed down on my end, but we’re still working together: it may just take a month or two longer than expected.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

We’re not at the execution stage yet, but the quality of Blackcoffee’s performance so far has been great. They strike a good balance of listening to us and pushing us to think differently. There are 12 stakeholders involved in our side that have to participate and have their thoughts accounted for. Blackcoffee has been able to work around us and our needs without letting it detract the quality of their efforts and processes.

How did Blackcoffee® perform from a project management standpoint?

It’s been pretty smooth so far. They’re relatively small, so it’s easier for them. We had a point where we had to organize a rollout for 30 customer communications going on at the same time. They managed it without issue. 

What did you find most impressive about them?

When working with most agencies, we’ll have a seasoned expert in the periphery and work with junior people most of the time. One of the reasons I chose Blackcoffee was that they don’t have junior people. Everyone touching our project has 20 or more years of experience in branding and strategy. That’s not typical in the agency world.

Are there any areas they could improve?

We haven’t had any issues with Blackcoffee. They’ve done exactly what they said they would do, when they promised to do it by. Before we started work, they clarified what we wanted out of this. They’ve really listened to that, and as a result, it’s been a very stress-free process. We haven’t given as much negative feedback as I think they’ve expected. 

We still have some more work to do, but I like our conversations and the fact that they include me in the decision-making process. They feel like an extension of our team. 

Any advice for potential customers?

Be honest about what you’re looking to get out of it, how you work, and what you need from them. They’re really good at listening and paying attention, and they never force their ways on the customer. It leads to a very positive relationship.

5.0
Overall Score I have absolutely zero regrets — that’s all I can ask for.
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They’re more expensive than other options, but the value is great. This is something you can’t skimp on.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I’ll use them wherever I go next.

Association Management Branding Services

"I like their thoughtful approach and their ability to position an organization within its industry sector."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
Apr. - Dec. 2016
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee helped rebrand a third-party global association. The goal was to craft a modern, easily-recognizable position through a new logo, abbreviated name, tagline, and more.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Boston, Massachusetts
Managing Partner, Association Management Firm
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The new branding materials were seamlessly incorporated into the existing organization while maintaining a consistent visual identity. Blackcoffee impressed with their ability to defend their professional insights without enforcing a common, templated approach.

The client submitted this review online.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company and your position there.

I am the managing partner of an association management firm based in Boston.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

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

We hired Blackcoffee to assist in rebranding one of our association clients.

What were your goals for this project?

To create a modern, easily recognizable position for this global association of professional advisors to multi-generational companies.

SOLUTION

How did you select this vendor?

We had worked with Blackcoffee on a similar project in 2011 and 2012 and were pleased with their work at that time, so decided to re-engage them in 2016.

Describe the scope of their work in detail.

To look at the multiple initiatives of this organization, e.g., educational services, publications, membership benefits, conferences and increased public awareness and come up with enhanced positioning based on the work done in 2011-2012.

What was the team composition?

The two principals of Blackcoffee were involved throughout the project which lasted for about six months.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

This was not a metric driven process. It included a revision of the logo, which emphasized the abbreviated name of the group and was more recognizable that the original, longer version.

This revision and the accompanying tag line were easily used by the various elements of the organization at the same time keeping a consistent brand look and description. The results were well-received, and the change was seamlessly instituted.

How effective was the workflow between your team and theirs?

We worked well together, clarifying the goals and objectives, which morphed a bit in the process, and keeping to the deadlines which were critical and relatively short.

What did you find most impressive about this company?

I like their thoughtful approach and their ability to position an organization within its industry sector while drawing on ideas and thinking from a broader set of their client base. We especially liked their ability to debate various approaches and topics, holding their own professional position, but not forcing us into a cookie-cutter approach.

Are there any areas for improvement?

Their latest work with my client was essentially an extension of the earlier work, so there was nothing that stands out as needing improvement.

4.5
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    It was fine and negotiable.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    Worked within our budget.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    Professional, imagintive, deadline oriented
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Branding for BBQ Restaurant

"Blackcoffee® could take my ideas—everything from our logo to our vibe—and put them on paper perfectly."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Sept. 2015 - May 2016
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee® created a barbecue restaurant’s brand. They produced deliverables such as the restaurant’s name, logo, menu design and layout, tee-shirts, packaging, and interior design details.  

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Andy Hubsands
Owner and Pit Master, The Smoke Shop BBQ
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Since its opening, the restaurant is now seen as a market leader in its region, thanks in part to Blackcoffee®’s brand work. The team showed a high level of expertise and attention to detail. Their ability to listen and provide high-quality customer service made for an enjoyable experience.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the pitmaster and owner of The Smoke Shop BBQ, a multi-unit barbecue restaurant.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Blackcoffee®?

My partner and I needed help with branding our restaurant before it opened.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Blackcoffee® started with naming our company. We wanted something memorable and promotable that spoke to our identity. Blackcoffee® ran us through a neat process to distill who we are in a name. They also created a sheet that gave us brand guidelines, defining who we are and what we’re not. 

In addition, Blackcoffee® created deliverables like our logo, our menu and its layout, our tee-shirts, the tape for our to-go boxes, and the door handle to our restaurant. They paid a great deal of attention to every detail, both large and small.

What is the team composition?

We worked with Mark and Laura (Founders & Brand Expressionists, Blackcoffee®). 

How did you come to work with Blackcoffee®?

I networked with them years ago. A friend of mine who owns a successful store and a strong brand used Blackcoffee® and recommended them to me. I had a small project with their team at the time, but I always wanted to work on a bigger project with them.

What is the status of this engagement?

The project ran from another September 2015 until June 2016.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

While I don’t have any metrics, we went from being an unknown restaurant to being the highest rated barbecue place in Boston. And part of that success comes the brand that Blackcoffee® built for us.

How did Blackcoffee® perform from a project management standpoint?

They did a great job. I tended to want everything now, and they managed my expectations very well. I was always clear about how long things should take. We communicated over the phone and email.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Blackcoffee® could take my ideas—everything from our logo to our vibe—and put them on paper perfectly. We related to each other as creatives. It was like they took my tunes and turned them into music. I also appreciated that after the contract ended, Blackcoffee® stuck around for touch-ups and questions that we had.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I haven’t worked with other branding agencies before, so I can’t speak to how their process could improve. We had a really fun time working with Blackcoffee®.

Any advice for potential customers?

Use Blackcoffee®. They’re good listeners and executors. We had a great experience with their team.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They managed me really well, keeping me informed of what was happening and when.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    Blackcoffee® delivered huge value.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Branding Strategy for Ticketing Solution

"I’m really pleased with what they’ve done."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Mar. 2019 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee® created a revised brand strategy with more focused messaging for a startup. They interviewed customers and developed refreshed branding to reflect a more focused value proposition and mission. 

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Boston, Massachusetts
Matt Zarracina
CEO, True Tickets
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Dedicated and versatile, Blackcoffee®'s team constructed engaging messaging and designs that received strong feedback. Their project management was excellent, particularly because of their small team size. Blackcoffee®'s team stood out for its efficiency, innovative ideas, and personability.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am the CEO of True Tickets, a secure digital ticket delivery service. We’re a B2B ticket service that works with ticketing platforms to create a more secure experience for users.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Blackcoffee?

The ticket industry is a competitive space. We wanted to differentiate ourselves from a messaging and branding standpoint. As a startup, it’s challenging to understand what you want to say, how you are saying it, and how it will be received. We needed to refine our value proposition. This new messaging would resonate and connect with customers, potential partners, and investors in the right and optimal way for us. We felt we were 70% of the way there, but we needed help on honing, aligning, and polishing our messaging.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They helped us find our voice in a succinct way. Through an interview process with clients and customers, they were able to hone in on our value proposition based on what they heard and then communicate that. We’ve always struggled to develop a clear value proposition—they helped focus on the idea that we provide our clients control to manage their experience.

They provided a distinct brand architecture through changing the color palette and assessing our logo design. They also did a full assessment of our company’s name. We also worked on a website refresh to make our product more accessible. It wasn’t a full rebranding process because they recognized there was some brand equity in what we’ve done. They provided us with a broad brand strategy to improve what we had.

What is the team composition?

We worked with three members of their team: Mark (Brand Expressionist, Blackcoffee), Laura (Brand Expressionist, Blackcoffee), and Alex (Advisor, Blackcoffee).

How did you come to work with Blackcoffee?

They were referred to us. We had talked to a couple of other organizations, but we connected well with Blackcoffee from a personability standpoint.

How much have you invested with them?

We’ve invested around $100,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

The work began in March 2019 and we are still actively working with them. We initially met with them in January.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

Since we’ve modified how we pitch our company and the value proposition, we’ve been able to communicate and connect with people in the right way. With the website redesign, we can now direct potential investors, employees, and clients to the website because it clarifies what we do and how we do it. Once we changed our messaging based on their feedback, we saw immediate understanding from the people we were talking to. This is one of those spaces where you really want to see the value in less than 60 seconds to get excited about it.

We’re an early-stage startup, so there’s not much we can give quantitatively.  

How did Blackcoffee perform from a project management standpoint?

They were excellent. I’ve been very happy with their management. They’re really friends of our company. I always enjoy talking to them. I think they’re incredibly personable and professional people.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They're a small, dedicated, and versatile team. Other providers wanted to have a team of six or seven with part-time specialists. With Blackcoffee, you get a broad set of skill sets and capabilities, but they’re able to move more efficiently because they’re a small team and there’s less churn.

Are there any areas they could improve?

Nothing stands out for me. I’m really pleased with what they’ve done.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

You should be flexible, ready to listen, and open. You can have a preconceived notion of what needs to be done and what you want to get out of it, but I think the more open you are, the more you can get out of it. Don’t come with a full idea of the end result. The more open you are, the better.

5.0
Overall Score They are incredibly capable professionals.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I’ve already referred them to a friend.

Branding for Global Internet Security Company

“They’ve done an excellent job creating a name that reflects what our company does.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
2019 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee® created a brand for a security startup. Their team developed a name, designed a logo, and built a positioning strategy. They complemented this with extensive research into the industry.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Boston, Massachusetts
Co-Founder, Internet Security Company
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Blackcoffee®’s work received great feedback from customers. The name and brand they created positioned the startup as a market leader. They delivered high-quality work on schedule while also offering unique insights, methodology, and research acumen.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the CEO of a startup in the enterprise security space.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Blackcoffee®?

We are primarily an engineering and technology startup, so we needed a marketing department to help establish ourselves in the space through branding, naming, and other marketing efforts.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Blackcoffee® handled the overall branding and positioning strategy. They created a logo, a company name, and a company identity. Mark (Founder, Blackcoffee®) and other team members did their own independent research around the space. They tried to understand our value proposition from a variety of different perspectives before consolidating it into a collaborative process and creating a deliverable.

After launch, we’ll move into the next couple of stages of engagement with them, which will focus on product positioning and branding.

What is the team composition?

Mark and Laura (Brand Expressionist, Blackcoffee®) are the two principal team members. They are interchangeable in their roles, but Mark runs the project for the most part. It is a team effort with those two and our team.

How did you come to work with Blackcoffee®?

Someone on our staff screened several players in the space in the Boston metro area. After an additional interview, we landed on Blackcoffee®. I have experience in screening firms, and I thought they had a good sense of our culture.

How much have you invested with them?

We’ve invested over $100,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

The project began in 2019 and is still ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

The feedback from our customers about the new name and positioning has been quite favorable. They’ve done an excellent job creating a name that reflects what our company does. Their work establishes us as a leader in our space.

How did Blackcoffee® perform from a project management standpoint?

They’ve performed remarkably well. Usually, when we’ve put very creative people together in an engineering, program management-oriented culture, it’s been hard to get on-time deliverables, but they handled it well.  We’ve had in-person meetings and exchange a lot of our materials digitally. We share screens quite often to work on content. 

What did you find most impressive about them?

Their insight and methodology they used to acquire domain knowledge are impressive. That methodology quickly allows them to converge on a solution for naming and branding, rather than simply presenting a range of options. This shows that they do a significant amount of research before arriving at a final option. This is unique because many firms put that choice on the customer. 

Are there any areas they could improve?

I think if our firm becomes larger, we could potentially run into scaling problems.. Their small team could limit how many projects they can actively take.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

You should describe the business with as many facets as you can from the start. They have the ability to absorb it as opposed to having a single source give one perspective. I think the more input they get the more productive they are.

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 Identity & Naming for Local Bank

“The brand strategy that Blackcoffee® developed had a lasting effect on our business.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Feb. 2012 — Dec. 2012
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee® developed a rebranding strategy, which included a name change and strategic brand messaging. They also redesigned the company logo.

The Reviewer
 
201-500 Employees
 
Lowell, Massachusetts
Richard Bolton, Jr.
Former CEO, Local Bank
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Blackcoffee® transformed the unremarkable brand into a progressive leader within the local market. The rebranding strategy also attracted a new clientele. Although it was a lengthy process, the diligence yielded terrific results. 

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

At the time of the project, I was the CEO and chairman of the board of a small community bank.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Blackcoffee®?

The new management team inherited some financial issues which they were addressing and wanted to improve the companies public image within the community. We also wanted to rename the company to set us apart from other local banks.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Blackcoffee® helped us rebrand our company with a new name, logo, and messaging. We went through a fairly extensive process of learning what the community and employees thought about our bank. The public’s perception was eventually used to develop our strategic identity plan, which entailed modernizing our brand and setting our company up for growth; the new name removed our geographic identifiers, and the new logo used untraditional colors and fonts. They also prepared a complete guide so that our marketing team could easily incorporate a consistent voice in all of our future messaging.

What is the team composition?

Three or four people were working at their company at the time. We mostly interacted with the two principals.

How did you come to work with Blackcoffee®?

We interviewed several marketing and advertising companies but became drawn to Blackcoffee® due to their size and niche focus. We felt more comfortable working with a small business where the executives were hands-on, as opposed to working with a large firm where our project was handed off to a lower-level project manager after the sales pitch.

How much have you invested with them?

We spent between $25,000–$125,000 on their services.

What is the status of this engagement?

They started working on the project in February 2012, and they wrapped everything up in December 2012. It was a lengthy process because we had to go through a lot of internal review from our board members.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

The brand strategy that Blackcoffee® developed had a lasting effect on our business. Our image shifted from being traditional and insignificant to modern and forward-thinking. The new logo was well-received by the public. Younger clientele joined the bank at increasing rates after debuting our more contemporary look. We also incorporated their brand strategy into our advertising, which humanized our banking process.

How did Blackcoffee® perform from a project management standpoint?

Their team was extraordinarily programmatic. They outlined their process at the very beginning and kept pace on the timeline throughout the engagement. I initially balked at the year-long timeframe, but it turned out to be accurate due to the long-winded approval process on our end. We used an online tool to communicate and track their progress.

What did you find most impressive about them?

As a small firm, Blackcoffee® was able to give our project the attention that it needed to be successful. With frequent communication and genuine concern for our goals, they quickly became a part of our team. They always listened to us and never pushed back when our preferences conflicted with their own.

Are there any areas they could improve?

They were up front with the timeline and the date the project would be completed. I feel the whole process as an organization could have moved faster. This includes our internal process as well. It’s not a negative reflection on Black Coffee. As a CEO, I always want things to move fast with little or no cost.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

My advice to other potential customers who are rebranding is to understand that the process is lengthy to get it right the first time and it's better to spend the money upfront for the right advice versus having to revisit a costly project in a few years. 

5.0
Overall Score We were pleased with the overall product and the delivery schedule. They met our expectations and exceeded them.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    The length of the processes was due to our approval process. Black Coffee came well within the timeline that they presented to us under the agreed upon contract.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    As a CEO I always want to minimize expenses, but Black Coffee came within the agreed upon budget.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    Partnering with Blackcoffee® brought us excellent results.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer