I just returned from a brilliant few days at Glastonbury, and despite the lack of sleep and abundance of festival-strength cider, I couldn’t help noticing something about brands.
For a festival with a relatively anti-commercial feel, it’s surprisingly saturated with logos, sponsorship and advertising. From Hunter wellies and Tuborg beer tents to Orange phone charging stations and Pieminister food vans, brands are everywhere. But the one that stuck in my mind, the brand that told its story most effectively and consistently, was a one-man operation in the corner of a field: the 50p Tea Tent.
I was wandering aimlessly with a couple of friends on the Thursday morning of the festival when we found ourselves in The Green Fields, a quiet area with tipis, wood-carvers and multi-coloured caravans. In desperate need of a liquid hangover cure, we came across a chalkboard sign that read:
THE 50p TEA TENT
TEA … 50p
COFFEE … 60p
FRESH COFFEE … 1.00
CHAI TEA … 1.00
And the reasonable prices went on. This place was an oasis in a desert of £2 cuppas from chip vans, so we stopped for a drink.
Inside the tent was a friendly hippy. To his left were 3 gas stoves supporting large, battered kettles. In front of him was a table with supermarket-bought cakes and cartons of fruit juice. I ordered a cuppa, then drank it outside on one of the tent’s simple wooden benches.
After the tea, I felt great. It wasn’t that the drink was particularly special – just a standard cuppa – but the experience was. Because of the price, I felt like I’d secured a bargain. Because of the simple homemade environment, I felt like I was getting a good, honest cup of tea. Because just one bloke was running the tent, I felt like I was helping him out by spending money there.
That afternoon, I found myself recommending the tent to other people. I’d unwittingly become a brand advocate.
The next day I went out of my way to go there for another cup of tea. The queue was huge. It was obvious that I wasn’t the only one who had shared the story.
I don’t think the tent was successful purely because of its bargain prices. There was an emotional benefit of drinking there (a sense of honesty and goodness) as well as a functional one (value for money). The owner, whether purposefully or accidentally, had created a brand and communicated its story effectively through these channels:
The 50p Tea Tent: a clear name that communicates a unique selling point of the product
A simple chalkboard that stood out a mile in a colourful, brand-saturated festival
A much lower price point in comparison to competitors
A friendly and engaging tea-maker (with a relaxed tone-of-voice!)
Everything from the queuing area to the benches suggested honesty, value and relaxation
And what’s the point of all this storytelling in a commercial context? It’s simple:
Storytelling → Emotional Connection → Belief → Advocacy → Business