Super Seminar

Reflections on Creating a Brand

brand building marketing martial arts school small business Aug 20, 2021

Some thoughts on branding while wandering in Puerto Rico.  

I’m a coffee drinker…no a coffee fiend.  In 2019, I gave up caffeine (and a bunch of other vices) as an experiment.  It was an attempt to cleanse the body and mind of what I felt at that time to be bad habits. 

Fast forward to March 2021 during a trip to Costa Rica, I was unable to find any type of decaf so I reluctantly drank a cup of regular.  That first sip was euphoric and I believed finally led to the creation of the Black Belt Business Union as I was buzzing with ideas and creativity.  

One cup led to two and two led to another two shots of espresso daily.  Costa Rica’s not a bad place to fall off the coffee wagon.  They have amazing brews as does Puerto Rico.  Which finally leads me to the actual topic of this post.

Puerto Ricans sure do enjoy their coffee.  It seems like the locals get their fix throughout the day and into the evening.  Why not, at $1.00 per 2oz espresso shot you’d be missing out on a great deal especially if yo’re used to paying gourmet coffee shop prices in DC that start north of $3.00.

What’s baffling to me is why there were so many Starbucks in San Juan that sold burnt tasting doppio espresso shots for $3.25 + tax.  Sales taxes are outrageous in PR, but I’ll save that for a follow up post.  How could there be over 15 Starbucks locations in the capital alone and how could they possibly compete with the local coffee stands that were virtually on every corner and selling for a fraction of the price.

It’s all about Brand.  You can see it in the Google search results when you search for Coffee near me in Puerto Rico “Seattle Based Iconic Coffee Shop.”  People can get a taste of Seattle’s finest and most popular coffee by paying for overpriced sub-par product.  The green emblem stands for something and everyone can be a part of that for a price.  Although I seem to be speaking ill of Starbucks, I’ll give them credit for consistency.  No matter where in the world I go, I can expect the same thing, which does a lot to establish the brand in the mind of consumers.  I can’t say the same of all the corner coffee shops in San Juan.  It was hit or miss, sometimes it was exquisite but most times it tasted like watered down truck stop coffee.

While visiting Thailand in 2017, I encountered the same phenomenon.  Even in a sea of mom and pop coffee shops, Starbucks was king.  In addition to the consistent service and product offering, they had on their side the magnetism of being an American company.  In Thailand, there is a craze to become more like the west and now the upper middle class of Southeast Asia could get a step one closer to the west with each sip.  I digress but these experiences have caused me to take a closer look at my martial art school, specially the brand.  What do I want it to represent and what do people feel it represents to them?

I’ll be taking a deeper dive and re-evaluating some core aspects of BETA Academy...specifically our:

  • Mission Statement
  • Vision
  • Values and Ethos
  • Code of Conduct

Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.  

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