Established in 1975, Second Cup is a specialty coffee retailer with 345 locations across Canada. Although it pales in comparison to the ubiquity of Canada’s preferred coffee purveyors, Tim Hortons (and its 4,000+ locations), and the ever-growing presence of Starbucks (nearly 1,000 locations), Second Cup is a very well loved and regarded coffee shop. In December of 2014, Second Cup opened a new store in Toronto billed as the Innovative Café of the Future that would serve as a testing ground for new ideas that would then spill into other locations. Among the features of this store was a new identity — and name, Second Cup Coffee Co. — designed by Toronto-based Jacknife, that was recently implemented at the top level. (Even a couple weeks ago you could see the old logo on their website).
The updated brand — Second Cup Coffee Co.™ — reflects a new independent spirit, a commitment to the world’s finest coffee, and the company’s vision to be the coffee brand most passionately committed to quality and innovation. […] The new logo is designed to convey the re-energized premium status of the brand, and all touch points both inside and outside of the café have been modernized.
The previous logo was very unambitious: a steaming cup of coffee and some unfortunately flared-serif-ed typography. (And I’m not even showing you the full-on gradient and bevel version!). Definitely the look of a small, non-competing coffee shop. The new logo shows much more confidence in the name recognition of the company, dropping the coffee graphic and opting for a simple wordmark. If it weren’t because it says coffee and people know what Second Cup is then it could easily be a fashion line, hip restaurant, cold-pressed juice, or alternate logo of a professional sports team. Nonetheless it’s a very pretty wordmark, with the right combination of letters — lots of rounded “C”s and “O”s and those perfectly aligned “F”s and “E”s provide great rhythm. So, yes, it’s slightly generic but once it’s placed on all sorts of coffee goodness then it makes for a convincing coffee brand.
How well the identity gets implemented beyond the test store remains to be seen, as clearly a lot of care and attention has gone into it. Scaling might become an issue early on and some of these clean, suave applications might look out of place in older-looking locations but over time this is poised to be a rather nice identity that will very much distance Second Cup from Tim Hortons’ more populist vibe and closer to the higher-end aesthetic of the newer Starbuckses. The only other problem I see is the name: No one is going to call it “Second Cup Coffee Co.”. Try saying it out loud; it’s two words short of a tongue twister. Just because it looks good as a logo, doesn’t mean it should drive the naming. And now it’s time for my own second cup — lowercase, since it’s literally my second cup this morning from UCllc headquarters.
Thanks to Adrian Pawliszko for the tip.