Translating an Iconic American Legend
Into a Compelling New Coffee Brand
Everyone knows Joe DiMaggio’s name; he is a quintessential American icon. His legendary (and, to date, unbroken) 56-game hitting streak in the summer of ’41 is not only one of the most romantic records in sports; it’s a part of American culture and history.
The challenge I faced was how to transform this legendary story into something relevant for today — how to make it a compelling brand today’s consumers would engage with, while still staying true to the spirit and legacy of this cultural icon.
Very little had been done with the Joe DiMaggio name in previous years. It was a noble legacy and heritage most Americans had heard of, but the name had so much relevance for today that wasn’t being leveraged.
The challenge was how to frame Joe DiMaggio’s legacy — and the ideals it embodied — to empower a modern audience.
It was an evolutionary process, to say the least. We had no roadmap. Few before had transformed a historical icon into a new brand that was relevant and compelling for today’s customers. Many iconic figures have come back in style, licensing products under their name, but this was different. This was taking the foundation of a legend and creating a brand not based on the man himself, but on the ideals he represented which contained timeless meaning and symbolism. It was creating something completely new yet complementary and still rooted in a rich history.
I’ve never been one to shy from a transformation challenge like this — in fact, it invigorates me. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I was prepared to “Give It All” (the tagline/rallying cry we created for our new product) to make it happen.
Phase 1: Joe DiMaggio (The Man, The Legend)
Through an emergent brand and positioning strategy, we realized it made sense to keep the “Joe DiMaggio” for use on memorabilia, iconic and baseball-specific products. However, the messaging and positioning needed to be transformed for a younger, digital audience. Also, the “brand” didn’t have a professional and modern brand identity or a digital presence. Our first step for the Joe DiMaggio brand was to create a modern brand identity, using one of the most famous historical images in all of baseball. (Download the Joe DiMaggio Visual Design case study here.)
The next step was to build Joe DiMaggio digital assets and create and implement an integrated digital multi-media strategy. This included the creation of a new new website and fan page, a commemorative United States Postal Service Forever Stamp to coordinate with the 70th anniversary of DiMaggio’s hitting streak, and a licensed commemorative product with AriZona beverages.
Once we’d built out the digital assets for the Joe DiMaggio historical brand, it was time to take things to the next level.
Phase 2: Joltin’ Joe (The New Lifestyle Brand)
In the ecosystem of names the Joe DiMaggio Estate possessed, “Joltin’ Joe” gradually emerged as a leading asset for the new brand we wanted to create.
Once we’d decided on the right name for this new brand, it all came down to identifying what made Joe DiMaggio a figure a whole nation gathered behind, what made him remarkable in his own time, and figuring out how to translate that for today’s audience. We realized the ideals and traits he represents are timeless: perseverance, grace, hard work, integrity. These are all things that not only still speak to people today; they can provide inspiration for how to navigate today’s fast-paced, hectic world.
We decided to focus in on that legendary hitting streak as the quickest and most effective way to exemplify Joe’s qualities that we need to emulate now. It was the “moment in time” that demonstrated everything that made Joe great and made him an example we could still follow today. We wanted to come up with a tagline that would summarize those traits and tell people how they could adopt them for their own lives today.
I don’t like to think of “Give It All” as simply a tagline. It is our rallying cry — our call to action. It embodies the spirit that sets us apart from all other craft coffee brands.
Landing on “Give It All” wasn’t a linear process, or a straightforward one. We needed to distill the core of the brand’s messaging into one phrase that would convey the essence of the brand, connect the history behind our brand (what Joe DiMaggio represented) and distill it into a compelling call to action that would speak to today’s consumers.
I like to describe the process of creating a tagline or defining statement as akin to detective work. If you’ve seen any of the big crime procedurals, you’ve likely seen a detective with a big whiteboard full of newspaper clippings, photos and other pieces of the puzzle, all connected by colored strings and arrows and notes to help them unravel the case. When you see the different elements of a brand or concept spread out in front of you — elements you know well and understand the meaning of singularly — you can begin to see what others might not: a hidden connection or starting point to work with. You find that certain things have special energy. A phrase or combination of words or images begins to peek out from the clouded collage.
Of the many famous quotes by Joe DiMaggio, one stuck out to me while I worked on this tagline creation: “I was out there to play and give it all I had… I looked at it like, ‘I’m doing my best.’ If I got the hit, fine. I always felt good that I had given my best.” That phrase, “Give It All,” did everything we wanted a tagline to do. It was a nod to our unique heritage but embodied much more — it connected the traits of Joe DiMaggio we wanted to emulate and explained how today’s consumers could reflect them in their own lives. It provided people with both a challenge and the motivation to meet that challenge.
Of course, this realization didn’t happen overnight or in one amazing “a-ha” moment; it was something that developed and crystallized over time. And once we had our rallying cry and call to action, it was time to get Joltin’ Joe out there in the world.
Landing on the right product for our new brand was the easiest part of the process — what better fit than coffee for “Joltin’ Joe”! Not to mention coffee had a natural tie-in with our “Give It All” tagline as it could be used to “fuel” your big goals.
With the launch of our coffee product, we aimed to redefine what people had come to expect from a cup of Joe. To create our game-changing coffee, we assembled a talented team including of the world’s more prescient coffee experts, an expert in creating world-class speciality coffee and coffee blends who had formerly worked with Starbucks. He led us through the third wave in coffee — a movement towards artisan, craft coffee that focuses on the best growers, the best beans, higher-quality roasting curves and roasting in small batches by hand to get the best flavor possible. (A quest for excellence we like to think Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio would have admired.) We worked hard to create a craft coffee that delivers a unique, consistent brew with a rich aroma and a balanced level of superlative smoothness and sweetness.
You Don’t Have to Be Bitter to Be Bold(™)
We wanted Joltin’ Joe coffee to redefine “smooth” — to be a rich, bold blend that stood out without any of the bitterness that marred other coffees. So we created the above as the tagline for our coffee campaign to let consumers know how our coffee was unique from anything else in the market.
Joltin’ Joe was a hit! The commemorative coffee brand garnered high praise—the Espresso Roast was named by Gourmet Retailers 2014 Editor’s Picks as the year’s most tasty retail coffee. We also did a special commemorative product with Arizona Beverages.