I recently attended a Coffee and Design meetup where three local organizations talked about collaboration. Although the title of the discussion mentions “Big Brands”, these three organizations do not consider themselves big. They do not feel big. Their brands are well-known locally, but when compared with large organizations within their markets, they are among the little guys. Having that small company mentality has its advantages. Yes, they each have become a big brand in Kansas City, but they remember what it was like to truly be a small organization, when they had to wear multiple hats.
A smaller company has more flexibility, creativity and authenticity. They have more opportunity to collaborate, comparing this collaboration to a “jam session” among musicians. The Roasterie goes so far as to say, “We want to be the supporting cast. It’s not about us. We want to help support other organizations like Sporting or Hallmark or Jasper’s.”
Although Boulevard Brewing Company and Sporting KC each have regulations to follow, they feel they have less red tape to deal with than what large corporations do. When they have a question or idea, they don’t have to run it up the chain to get approval. They can pretty much get a “yes” or “no” on the spot. Of course they would not present an idea they know they will lose money on, but they usually do not get push back from leadership. Also the brand is a priority. Sometimes there are things that they, personally, would do but the brand would not.
The relationship The Roasterie, Boulevard and Sporting have is a natural fit. Sometimes they run into collaborators they know right away are not going to be a good fit. “It’s going to feel like a square peg in a round hole right away if it’s a bad fit.” “Initially, one may not see how the products from our companies relate to each other, when in actuality, the same people who are drinking craft beer are the same people who are hanging out at coffee shops and are the same people going to Sporting games.” The Roasterie has a Sporting KC coffee blend. Sporting serves that and Boulevard beer at their games.
They believe in being open to new ideas. The idea may not be what they planned to do, but eventually, it starts to make sense to try it. Why not? That’s where innovation comes from — exploring something that may be really awful, but it’s worth a try. Whoever thought chocolate ale would be a good seller? Or coffee based balsamic vinegar?
The Roasterie teamed with Sporting KC recently to brand a TukTuk, which is similar to a golf cart, made in Thailand, with a storage compartment that opens in the back. They plan to take it to the Crossroads District to serve coffee out of. They admit it is more for “coolness”; not to make any money. It was inspired by the Oscar Mayer wiener mobile. The Roasterie got the vehicle. Sporting did all the design. The Roasterie had trust that Sporting knew what would represent them both well.