The case study sets a new direction for Turkey’s most legendary coffee brand and incorporates a new strategy, brand identity and launch campaign.
The iconic story of Sir Mehmet Efendi (1857 – 1934), the Turkish coffee roaster, began in Istanbul when he took over the family’s spice-business by a young age in 1871. He was the first to introduce roasted, ground and pre-packaged coffee when raw coffee beans were roasted in pans at home and ground by hand. Soon after, he founded the famous Turkish coffee company in Tahtakale (Istanbul) and created the legendary brand in the home of every Turkish family while perfecting a cultural heritage. Since then, Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi has been the strongest brand associated with Turkish coffee, which stands for the long tradition of coffee making and its distinctive taste. Now, the company is supported by its well protected heritage in Istanbul’s historic trading district.
The visual identity took shape with the word mark "MHKM" by architect Zühtü Basar who also designed the Art Deco headquarter in Tahtakale, Istanbul. In 1932, the famous Turkish illustrator and graphic designer Ihap Hulusi developed the remarkable emblem with the very first combination of visual and architectural identity and set an important milestone by turning the small company into a brand. The current brand logo as it is known today was then refined by Bülent Erkmen in 1993. Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi evolved from the trade of green-coffee beans and spices into a coffee manufacturer, who created and preserved his deep-rooted heritage in a sustainable way.
Today, despite almost 150 years of success, the brand Mehmet Efendi has remained merely a national icon, risking a setback in the coffee industry, while competitive brands in Turkey have managed to surpass the traditional odds, becoming a high valued and sought-after product due to modern prosperity for a new audience, the upper middle-class connoisseurs and young coffee lovers.
In order to reemphasize the status symbol "living heritage", that defines the identity through the core values inherited from its own past, a new brand architecture was required. The new identity needed to modernise, but also to recognise the company’s history and unique position within the coffee community. To make a difference, I began a thorough process to develop a profound design system, drawing precise attention on the legendary icon as a source of inspiration and enhancing the visual materials and packaging types.
The brief was to create a brand that was sensitive to the beloved status, but also radical enough to appeal to new consumer groups and rethinking process began in small but quick steps. No radical changes, but a contemporary and evolutionary step that seemed logical and self-evident. The identity also needed to establish a cohesive structure that would allow for differentiation across various products.
The new focus is placed on a more simplified balance between the icon, endorsed by the new bespoke word mark, which is a modernised rework of the original. As the most complete visual shorthand of the brand, the logo is created as a uniform brand system for the entire company and is isolated to its elements to the purest form.
The result is a bold, forward-looking brand logo thats promise is kept by the iconic illustration and can be used alone or in place of the logotype – it appears on all touchpoints from stationery items, website, sales and marketing materials to packaging.
In an effort to avoid older iterations and forms, I sought inspiration in the space itself. The basis for the new packaging design system was derived from repetitive pattern units, from which the more complicated patterns in particular are constructed: the ubiquitous star pattern, ultimately derived from triangles inscribed and multisided polygons.
The traditional and best selling product the "Türk Kahvesi" (i.e., the Turkish coffee) was streamlined to the new design. Despite looking surprisingly modern, the geometrical shapes and the new colour palette were taken from original samples found in the packaging and from the visual units.
The visual story of the iconic objects in the unboxing experience is refined by the haptic surface properties, in that way the packaging itself becomes a great carrier of the new design. I also reviewed the sortiment in relation to price levels to find the right look and feel in each packaging.
The new language of photography tells the company’s unique story and inspires young and old, coffee newbies or long-time connoisseurs, local and global. Authentic moments convey a positive emotional impact.