Reinventing Second Cup

How does an iconic Canadian brand strategically reinvent itself in the face of extreme competition?

In 2014, after nearly four decades of business, Second Cup was faced with an emerging reality: it was an aging brand in a crowded marketplace with consumers steadily trending away from its offering. The company realized it was losing relevance with both its core audience and with younger coffee drinkers. An enduring economic downturn, increasing competition, decreasing brand consistency and a dated retail experience were among the many conditions coming to a head as the company confronted a Q4 loss of $28 million.

Our strategic process began with Jacknife becoming fully immersed in the Second Cup brand to help identify its originating point of difference, and strengths and opportunities for building a more relevant brand for consumers.

Jacknife stripped back the brand and refocused on what was found to really matter to people who care about their coffee. Working closely with Second Cup, core pillars of the brand relevant to Canadian coffee culture were identified and used to frame the reinvention of the brand: Coffee (obsessive focus on quality product & innovation), Creativity (delightfully engaging store experiences) and Community (leveraging the strengths of their franchise model).

With a new, simplified logo treatment and naming convention, Second Cup Coffee Co. reaffirmed its deep respect for the roots of the business and reclaimed its category authority with a renewed commitment to championing authentic coffee culture.

The new cafe concept uses various consumer touch points to elevate the Second Cup experience. Included in the format are an expanded portfolio of premium coffees, updated menus serving healthier, locally sourced options, modern mixed-use seating options and a Slow Bar featuring a curious objet d’art affectionately referred to as the “steampunk” espresso machine. With the first concept-pilot store launched in downtown Toronto in late 2014, The Second Cup Coffee Co. is projecting a newfound optimism and relevance to consumers as well as the internal stakeholders in its very own owner-operator network.