Maintaining the perfect blend

What’s it about?

Costa Coffee has over 3,800 coffee shops in 32 countries. Its Essex Roastery is one of Europe’s largest, producing 45,000 tonnes of coffee a year. And for 10 consecutive years, this 40+ year-old brand has been voted the Nation’s Favourite coffee shop.

Coincidentally, we started working with Costa Coffee 10 years ago, when its home was still Lambeth and the brand hadn’t gone global. From our very first job of producing its internal newsletter, The Blend, we have gone on to deliver thousands of primarily internal comms projects.

Over the years, we have got to know and worked with team members responsible for food & beverage, internal comms, training and development, reward and recognition, IT, HR, environmental, operations and much, much more. We have crafted messaging for audiences as diverse as boardroom to barista.

Nutshell impact

As we mark our 10th anniversary of working with Costa Coffee, it’s hard to single out our ‘best’ or most meaningful work. I’m reminded that when we were first briefed on an internal ‘coffee competition’ several years back, I don’t think either of us foresaw quite how momentous the ‘Barista of the Year’ brand we created would become. It’s now a global event where baristas get the chance to demonstrate their prowess and passion, and where we create all the competition communications and processes to stage the heats, champion of champions main event and the post-show recognition and in-store publicity for the winner.

It’s a huge thing, it’s exciting, it’s celebratory but not every job we do for Costa Coffee is quite so congratulatory. Sometimes it’s serious issues like the environment or managing change, indeed we worked side by side with the brand when it was sold to Coca-Cola in 2018. Our Next Stop campaign helped support this transition, and the weekly bulletin we created and broadcast to team members then still remains a familiar and welcome form of communication today.

So, like most relationships, it’s about being there in good and bad times, or ‘sickness and in health’. And it’s a two-way street for us too, we have learnt so much from this client, about its culture and behaviour, while helping to make visible its values of passion, warmth courage and trust.

If I were asked to define three of the secret ingredients to this relationship lasting 10 years I would say:

  • Authenticity: we genuinely care about what each other does, both individually and as teams. There’s trust, honesty and respect on both sides and we never take the relationship for granted.
  • Passion: we treat each job as if it were our first, to keep the creativity alive. We’re curious, enthusiastic and motivated. We now know so much about Costa’s goals, strategies, people, initiatives that it helps inform and shape our creativity and platforms of communication.
  • Visibility: over the 10 years, we have got to know more and more people at Costa, and have extended our network beyond one or two key contacts to many different departments. Sometimes we’ll get recommended by a team member to someone we’ve never met before, which is an indication that our reputation precedes us!

In a nutshell, Costa Coffee has become very valuable to us this past decade, both culturally and economically. But we too have become valuable to them, in terms of our knowledge base and reputation for effective work. Covid-19 has tested both our businesses but we continue to work alongside each other, meeting each challenge with integrity and courage. I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes from team members:

“A HUGE thank you and your team for all your wonderful work and support. We really enjoy working with you and MASSIVELY appreciate you helping us to achieve SO much engagement across Costa.”

“You have helped me and my teams over the years with so many things. Thank you for being one of the best external suppliers I’ve worked with.”