How this Portland Coffee giant is mesmerizing customers with microcopy.

Back in 1999, a burly gentleman resembling a lumberjack disguised as a tatted hippie, spent what was left of his life savings on an $8,300 5-kilo coffee roaster.

He hauled the beastly machine down to a dilapidated neighborhood in Southeast Portland and set up a coffee shop that doubled as both a roastery and cafe.

Duane Sorenson would go on to grow Stumptown Coffee Roasters into a multimillion-dollar giant with cafe locations in Chicago, New Orleans, Seattle and Los Angeles before selling it to the billion-dollar coffee conglomerate JAB Holding — the proud parents of Keurig, Peet’s, Caribou Coffee, Intelligentsia, Panera Bread and Krispy Kreme.

Usually, things go downhill from here.

We’ve seen it countless times before.

When bold, beautiful independent brands sell their souls to the great big corporation they begin to change (and generally for the worst) — the marketing becomes safe and bland, the messaging lacks any sort of “oomph” and they suddenly become as interesting as a bible salesman.

Fortunately… whether it be by the divine intervention or a damn good marketing and creative team (I’d guess the latter)… Stumptown’s feel and taste have only aged like a fine red wine.

This is most apparent in their microcopy.

For the unfamiliar, microcopy is a term made popular in the tech space and is used to define the small, tiny bits of copy that either guide a customer or user through an experience or provide a small delightful experience in and of themselves.

While it’s generally used in apps and software, it can mesmerize customers when harnessed in the form of product packaging.

Stumptown has done this marvelously.

A few months back I tried Stumptown’s beautiful heavenly nectar for the first time. It was stored in a squatty ice-cold bottle that looked like it belonged in a different era. It even required a bottle opener.

The moment the cap came skirting off, I couldn’t help but smirk as I read the microcopy printed neatly on the inside of the cap…

“Good Luck”

(Had I been in charge of the copy, I probably would have added a period but I’m being knit-picky).

I loved the moment so much I paired the bottle cap with a page from my poetry book, snapped a photograph and shared it on my Instagram.

And, it just got better from there.

Pumb tuckered?

Impressed, I began to peruse the microcopy on the outside of the bottle and felt my heart skip a beat when I read the words…

“Plumb tuckered?”

While Stumptown caught my attention with “Good Luck”, they had me as a customer at “Plumb tuckered?”

All that said, here’s what you need to take away from this magical coffee drinking experience…

Words are giant so keep them small.

Microcopy turns users into customers and customers into friends.

It’s surprising (and in marketing, surprising is always good).

And, most importantly, it tells the customer you care.

It’s like buying them flowers, just because.

When Stumptown goes the extra mile in the way of an inch of microcopy, they’re saying to the customer… we’re here to do more than just serve you coffee.

But, now I’m just sounding like a helpless romantic, aren’t I?

By Cole Schafer.

Stranger than fiction by Honey Copy is a curation of stories about bat shit crazy marketing ideas that have made brands some serious cheddar. If this story made your mouth water, why not let me tell you when I write the next one?

I write pretty words and sometimes sell things.

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