Bye Bye, BudHow and why an established tea brand changed its name
By Dan Leif
The tea packer formerly known as Two Leaves and a Bud recently announced online that it was clipping the tail off its unique title. Starting this month, packages of product from the company will show up in cafés and on supermarket shelves bearing a simplified moniker: Two Leaves Tea Company. Since it launched in 2005, the Colorado-based business has built its brand on the back of the former quirky name (which references the ideal plucking technique in many producing regions), but founder and owner Richard Rosenfeld says the length and insider nature of the phrase also presented limitations. He talked with Fresh Cup about how the company approached the tricky task of altering its most prominent branding element—and what opportunities the shift may open up.
Fresh Cup: Did it feel scary making such a major move?
Richard Rosenfeld: Scary. That’s an understatement. The issue of managing your brand identity is one that I think hits home for all of us who run small businesses. But I’d been wanting to change the name for at least three years. When we launched the company, my thinking was the name has obvious resonance in the world of tea. I realized how long it was and thought, “We can work with that.” Over time, it became an encumbrance in a number of ways. Most importantly was the fact that although memorable it was also confusing. People would say, “Oh, yeah, Two Buds. I know you guys.” Or, they’d think it was Two Leaves and a Butt. Also, a long name is visually difficult to deal with on packing.
Q: What made you finally take the plunge?
A: We were working on new packaging this last year, and as the packaging developed, it basically had room for a nice clear logo. So I came into a meeting and said, “Guess what, you guys are gonna love this.” And everyone of course hated it. But I said, “Let’s just look at it before we say yes or no.” We put it on the packaging and everyone thought it looked fabulous. Then we tried it on a couple other brand touch points just as an experiment. We put it on a T-shirt and a catalog sheet, and it looked fabulous everywhere. That kind of sold us.
Q: Even though products with the new name haven’t shipped, you’ve let consumers know about the change via blog posts and social media, and you’ve had a range of responses. What has that process been like?
A: Once we made the decision, we drew out a timeline of what were going to do. Social media fell into about the middle of the timeline. The goal was to start letting people know it was coming—we didn’t want to do it too far in advance, though. I’ve had a remarkable number of people who I know socially or otherwise mention it to me, and that’s never happened to before. We were very careful when we formed that message: We were thinking we wanted feedback, but it was a done deal. We weren’t asking whether we should do it or not. [Marketing manager] Christy Garfield especially was very careful to form the message in such a way that it said, “This is happening, what do you think?” We wanted to bring them along for the ride in a way that was fun.
Q: Products that can advertise themselves as new in any way tend to enjoy increased sales. Has that been on your mind during this?
A: Absolutely. The range of emotions varies every day from fear to opportunity. It did give us the opportunity to revisit all our branding, all the things that define us visually. It allowed us to look at the panels on our packaging and say, “Is this the best expression of what we want to do with this tea?” We shifted our message a little bit from “Tea is like wine” to “This is where this tea is from.”
Q: What piece of advice do you have to others who may be considering significant brand changes?
A: I almost want to say, “Ask me in a year.” But for right now, I’d recommend a book called “Designing Brand Identity” by Alina Wheeler. I came across it about three years ago, and it helped me understand the importance of asking yourself some questions. First: What business are you in? Number two: Who are you serving? And then finally: Does this change meet the needs of the business you’re in and the people you’re serving?