Not just a new logo
Why we rebranded from CRS to ECRE
What just happened?
Well, we rebranded.
For most companies a rebrand is the perceivable act of changing a name, or updating a logo, or both. On the surface, those two things are what we did.
Underneath, you’ll find a year’s worth of research, design and teamwork that led to a company-wide change with purpose.
Why make the change?
It’s a question with many answers (which we get into further down) but the brief version is:
To make our industry better it needs to be accessible to more people, inclusive and generally more open. Nicer for everyone (and not just the ones already in the know), ya know?
So we set ourselves a mission: to create a place where anyone who wants to learn about coffee can—and feel good doing it.
The Long Version
Since 2016 we’ve been a co-roasting facility known as Collective Roasting Solutions—CRS for short.
Last year we began the process of designing a better website with our friends at BFF and as part of their process, undertook 2 months of research that saw them speak to our customers and the greater coffee community. Their objective was to identify the challenges facing the industry and how CRS might help with those. These insights would go on to inform the story we told on our website.
After speaking to 75+ people in coffee, the findings pointed to something far bigger than a story on a website. Verbatim from a roaster in the industry was a significant problem:
“…everyone knows there are issues and there’s a heap of conversation about how the industry can be better, but no one has actually done anything.”
In almost every interview we heard the same thing: the industry can be better, coffee could be better, more people should be able to access better equipment, knowledge should be shared and it shouldn’t cost a million dollars to roast great coffee.
We agreed. It’s why we started CRS in the first place. So we stopped talking and started doing something about it.
We wanted to be a part of the solution.
During our team chats we concluded that we wanted to help with ALL the challenges in the industry, but realistically we couldn’t.
And that was okay.
There were already organisations doing a great job tackling some of these big issues (like the Specialty Coffee Association and World Coffee Research), so it made sense to collaborate with them whilst shifting our focus to something they weren’t already working on.
We looked at our research to help us find our focus.
“One of CRS’s greatest strengths is the community they’ve built. They’re open with information and very inviting to those new to the industry. It can be daunting, there is a lot of information at first… and really big egos.”
Time and time again we kept hearing the same thing in our research: “Yeah the co-roastery is a great solution to access great equipment, but it’s the community and events I get so much from.”
Everyone who knew us saw us as open, friendly and knowledgeable. A space in the industry where they could learn about roasting and coffee, and feel safe to ask questions because for us, no question was a silly one.
We thought “well, yeah, isn’t everyone in the industry like that?” Turns out it wasn’t the case.
“The desire to continuously share knowledge for the benefit of the coffee industry is such a strength of the people at CRS, you can see this with the community they built around the co-roastery.”
Cafe Owner and Roaster (Interviewee)
For four years, CRS hadn’t just been a co-roasting facility. It was also a place for people to come together and share knowledge, learn, make mistakes and reflect on them.
Our educational and industry events, like Roaster Smackdown and cupping classes, felt matter-of-fact because we’d been where everyone else started: at the beginning with no idea and no one to talk to.
We evolved from a place that shared coffee roasting equipment to a community focused on helping each other roast better coffee.
And “just like that” (read: hundreds of hours) we found our focus: to help make the industry more diverse, open and accessible through the sharing of knowledge, equipment and a support.
Focus found! But there was still a tiny issue.
Our research also showed we had a problem. While the above was how some saw us already, there were those who didn’t really know us and still thought of us as “just a co-roasting facility that ran fun events”.
As one community member put it:
“CRS has a great opportunity to change the industry and influence it for the better, but not everyone knows who they are, what they’re doing or what they stand for.”
Our challenge was to communicate to those who didn’t know us (and those who already did) the story of what we’d grown into.
So, a rebrand happened.
But first, we established a brand strategy.
As you’ve just read, this rebrand didn’t just see us change a name and visuals, it saw us complete months of research, strategy and planning so we could make a considered shift in the business to help make our industry a better place.
Our existing, mixed messaging came from our focus having shifted from making equipment more accessible in the industry to making the industry more accessible, so we had to put a strategy in place for the brand—so we weren’t just saying this stuff. We were actually doing it.
The brand strategy saw us rethink our business strategy because we didn’t just want to say this stuff, we wanted to actually do it.
The brand strategy helped inform the business strategy and saw us 1) update core services to add education and community as main pillars of the business, 2) change our name and 3) refresh our brand identity.
Here’s what that meant:
1. We added two, new core services to our business
In order to support our community and help our industry we added:
- ECRE Academy. This sees us sharing knowledge and providing education in all things coffee;
- ECRE Community. This facilitates the sharing of knowledge by a) providing free access to resources and b) hosting events that provide insights into the industry and making them free or very cost-effective
— whilst staying true to our roots.
Formerly known as Collective Roasting Solutions, ECRE Co-Roasting will continue to focus on making roasting more accessible and sustainable through co-roasting.
2. We changed our name
Our new ambitions eclipsed what was communicated under our “Collective Roasting Solutions” name, so we transitioned to Ensemble of Coffee Research and Education, or ECRE (ee-kur) for short.
3. We refreshed our brand identity
Along with the new name we created a new company logo, refreshed our colours and added visual ‘levity’. This is reflected in our photography (shot by our own Shane Van Laar and featured in this article) and hand-drawn illustrations (by Alex Lim), devised under BFF’s art direction.
And now, we are ECRE: Access to education, equipment and support to help our community make coffee better.
14 months and thousands of hours later, we’re only getting started. We have a long way to go and whilst we’re by no means perfect, we’re trying to do better.
Reach out if you feel the same way 👉🏻 firstname.lastname@example.org
Teamwork makes the dream work.
A special thanks to everyone we collaborated with: our interviewees; The team at ECRE for believing in what we’re doing; BFF for the research, strategy, branding and website design; Shane Van Laar for the photography on all new comms; Tim Azarcon for development of the website; and Alex Lim for the illustrations. 🙌🏻