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, 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

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

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.

Reviews

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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
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

Brand Campaign for Logistics Solutions Firm

“If you’re looking for creativity and innovation, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone better than Blackcoffee®.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Apr. - July 2010
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee® managed a new brand campaign, producing a video and sending it out to perspective end clients on iPads. They worked with the internal team and also helped design a new logo and messaging.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Boston, Massachusetts
Donny Askin
Former CEO, Arigo
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Blackcoffee® was highly recommended and maintained clear communication. The team was professional, and the campaign was received extremely well. Even though they had lots of bigger clients, they made sure to meet and exceed all project goals.

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 CEO of Arigo, a company that provided a legacy platform for private label and supply chain processing.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Blackcoffee®?

I’d just recently been hired as an initiative to get the company back out on the marketplace. We needed an entire rebrand to create a fresh look for the company.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We explained our concern with refreshing the brand and getting it back into the marketplace, and Blackcoffee® provided the idea we eventually went with. They suggested we create a video of me talking about our new company and then sending that video out on new iPads to the top 15–20 prospective clients as a way to reintroduce ourselves.

They brought in the video production team and made sure the video was uploaded to the iPads so that the recipients would see it when they turned it on. The video was about 3–5 minutes, explaining how we weren’t the old legacy brand anymore and introducing the new management team and brand image. Blackcoffee® ran the project from beginning to end, and they also helped design a new logo and create all of our new messaging.

What is the team composition?

We had two main points of contact.

How did you come to work with Blackcoffee®?

They came highly recommended, so we interviewed them and a few other firms. Blackcoffee® was the most creative and innovative, so we hired them.

What is the status of this engagement?

The partnership lasted from April–July 2010.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

We sent iPads out to 15–20 prospective clients and got a response back from almost every single one. The initiative had the desired effect, and I’d love to work with Blackcoffee® again.

How did Blackcoffee® perform from a project management standpoint?

Their project management was great. We mainly communicated via email and phone.

What did you find most impressive about them?

We presented our problem, and they came back with an outrageous but innovative idea that worked incredibly well. We were a small company compared to the other clients that Blackcoffee® had, but we always felt like their most important customer. I’ve yet to experience the same level of creative innovation that Blackcoffee® provided.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I had a great professional experience with them. They exceeded all of our expectations.

Do you have any advice for future clients of theirs?

If you’re looking for creativity and innovation, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone better than Blackcoffee®.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    We didn't have any issues.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    It was a financial stretch, but worth it.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I've already referred them.

Brand Strategy & Logo Design for Residential Cleaning Firm

"I’m convinced that our logo is the best in our industry."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Sept. 2011 - Feb. 2012
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee redesigned a logo and branding elements for a residential cleaning service. They conducted research with a variety of stakeholders and completed the designs using a collaborative approach.

The Reviewer
 
1001-10,000 Employees
 
Boston, Massachusetts
Mark Kushinsky
CEO, MaidPro
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Blackcoffee’s designs catalyzed an increase in conversions and signups. They’re an experienced team of design professionals, and the quality of their work is exceptionally high. They were candid and thorough in their communication, which made for an excellent partnership.

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 MaidPro. We’re a residential cleaning franchisor with over 200 local affiliates throughout the US and Canada.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Blackcoffee?

We reached out to Blackcoffee because we needed a partner to help us rethink our brand strategy and better understand our customers. We also wanted to update our logos and designs, which were 15 years old at the time. Our end goal was to reposition ourselves in what is typically a saturated market.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They started the partnership by conducting in-depth research with internal and external stakeholders. They spoke with franchisees, cleaning staff, members of my team, and some of our customers. Once they felt like they had a detailed understanding of our organization, they reached out to and studied some of our competitors. Their team analyzed the branding of similar firms to identify ways for us to stand out.

After completing their initial research, they came to us with information from our stakeholders and ideas for logos and designs. We went back and forth with the concepts they offered, and they gathered feedback from clients about their work. The project culminated with a launch presentation where we revealed our new logo and designs.

What is the team composition?

I worked primarily with Mark and Laura (Brand Expressionists, Blackcoffee) and they did the majority of the work.

How did you come to work with Blackcoffee?

I was looking for a company in Boston that had experience with branding. While reading reviews and talking to agencies that didn’t do branding themselves, Blackcoffee came up multiple times. I reached out to them, and, after a number of meetings, it became clear that they were capable of doing the job and meeting our needs.

What is the status of this engagement?

The project started in September 2011 and finished in February 2012.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

Mark gave an incredibly well-received launch presentation, and we received immediate positive feedback from our franchisees and customers. After introducing the new designs, we started to see more responses from potential customers. Our cost per lead went down, and we saw our conversion rates increase in many of our marketing segments. Additionally, our closing ratio rose by about 10%–15%. We believe this was a result of our new logo giving people confidence in our brand.

How did Blackcoffee perform from a project management standpoint?

Because we were dealing with a small team and were interfacing directly with their leadership, the project management was near flawless. The process wasn’t linear, but the execution was fantastic.

What did you find most impressive about them?

I enjoyed working with people who were experienced and knowledgeable. Sometimes, especially with larger agencies, new clients are assigned to work with junior team members, because senior partners are usually spread thin across multiple projects. This wasn’t the case with Blackcoffee, and I was able to take advantage of Mark and Laura’s expertise.

I appreciate their support, not only in designing everything, but also in their being present throughout the launch and delivery. We’re still impressed by the timeless and modern look of the designs they produced. I’m convinced that our logo is the best in our industry.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I can't identify any areas for improvement. This was one of the best vendor relationships I’ve had. Mark and Laura were thoughtful and easygoing from the first day we spoke.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Be open and honest about challenges and listen to their recommendations. Sometimes, it can be difficult to hear an honest evaluation of your company and brand, but it’s important to trust their insight. They can see things that most entrepreneurs and business owners won’t.

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 IT Company

"Their approach allows us to break through in a complex, technical space."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
Jan. 2019 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee® leads a rebranding exercise for a a data integration firm. They focus on the strategic development of brand positioning and a messaging framework for decision makers.

The Reviewer
 
1 - 10 Employees
 
Boston, Massachusetts
Thomas Spicer
CEO, Openbridge, Inc.
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Communicating clearly from the start, Blackcoffee®’s expert team inspires confidence throughout the project. They keep the project moving by providing critical status updates throughout the engagement. They accept constructive input well and also bring creative ideas of their own to the table.

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 Openbridge, which is a data integration SaaS platform.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Blackcoffee®? 

As a technology company dealing with data, we struggle with trying to define branding that connects with consumers. We needed a partner to help us distill technical terms down into terms that are relatable to decision makers.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement? 

The scope for Blackcoffee® is primarily around strategy. They’re helping us with messaging, and they provide feedback and direction on the creative perspective as well. The deliverables to date are documentation for the brand strategy, positioning, and messaging process. 

What is the team composition? 

We work with both Mark and Laura (Co-founders & Brand Expressionists, Blackcoffee®), but most interactions are with Mark.

How did you come to work with Blackcoffee®? 

We’d heard about them and were connected to them through referrals. 

How much have you invested with them?

The budget forecast for this year is above $30,000.

What is the status of this engagement? 

Preliminary discussions were held in December 2018. Work began in January 2019, and the engagement is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

We haven't launched yet but we expect that to happen in the next month or two. Their direction, feedback, and challenging of our thought processes has been critical for us. 

How did Blackcoffee® perform from a project management standpoint? 

So far they've been fantastic. They’re always on top of everything, certainly more than we were throughout the process. Typically we'll exchange ideas electronically. We had a face-to-face kickoff and brainstorming session. We use a lot of digital communications such as video conference calls and text messages. We've gone back and forth on a few different modes of communication, but they’re quite flexible. 

What did you find most impressive about them? 

I appreciate how Blackcoffee® gets us thinking about our brand positioning, messaging, and the overall value proposition. They really challenge us to think differently about how we communicate. That mental shift has been important for us. Their approach turns the prism in a way that allows us to break through in a complex, technical space. 

Are there any areas they could improve? 

No, I don't have any areas of improvement. We're absorbing everything that they're providing us. I think they're doing a great job. 

Do you have any advice for potential customers? 

Have an open mind and be willing to challenge your assumptions and norms.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They work with our schedule and keep us moving forward.
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    The output they provide is exceptional.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    We’ve learned so much, and we're excited about our relaunch.

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.

The client submitted this review online.

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.

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 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.

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 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

Brand Identity for Footwear Industry

“They don't have a set agenda or cookie-cutter approach to each client...”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Oct. 2006 - Oct. 2008
Project summary: 

Blackcoffee laid out a brand strategy roadmap, emphasizing ways to make the use of the brand consistent across all mediums and all regions of the company.

The Reviewer
 
1001-10,000 Employees
 
Boston, Massachusetts
Senior Global Marketing Manager, Footwear Industry
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Blackcoffee's efforts helped significantly improve consistency across the brand's many mediums. Extremely responsive, creative, and solutions-focused in their approach, working with them was a seamless experience. Their personalized, thoughtful conceptualization sets them apart in their industry.

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 a senior global marketing manager for a footwear brand.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Blackcoffee?

A major part of my role was ensuring that our brand is consistent across all mediums and all regions. We were facing some challenges with our international brands not following our brand guidelines (i.e., using different logos), so we were looking for a vendor that could help hone in on our overall branding strategy, unifying the way it's portrayed throughout the company.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Blackcoffee provided an overall brand strategy, ensuring consistency across various marketing mediums. They laid out a roadmap for how the brand should be utilized going forward and presented it to a cross-functional group before fully adopting it internally.

What is the team composition?

I generally worked with Brand Expressionists Laura and Mark.

How did you come to work with Blackcoffee?

I think I discovered them just through some initial research locally and reached out to them with some specific questions about some terminology on their website. Mark was immediately very helpful and gave some great examples of how brands have overcome similar challenges.

What is the status of this engagement?

We worked together from around fall 2006 to October 2008.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

Blackcoffee helped strengthen our brand overall. The work they provided equipped us with the tools to effectively improve consistency across all mediums.

How did Blackcoffee perform from a project management standpoint?

They were very responsive in communications and I liked the fact that they knew when to call versus send an email.

What did you find most impressive about them?

I've worked with many other agencies throughout my career, but I think Blackcoffee differs from others in the way they think about the consumer. They're able to bring in fresh perspectives that get us thinking outside of our bubble. They don't have a set agenda or cookie-cutter approach to each client, and they're great about articulating their feedback or providing direction.

Are there any areas they could improve?

No. However, I think they could do a better job of promoting themselves since they do such great work.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Just go into it with an open mind and allow their team to showcase their expertise.

5.0
Overall Score I had a great experience and am looking forward to working with them again.
  • 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.

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 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.