Strong Brewed Rebranding

Posted on: March 28th, 2014 by: Tom Groff

Eight months after a bold move to a new name, Colectivo Coffee shows it’s not your average joe brand.

It was one of Milwaukee’s most beloved brand names: a humble, hometown operation built over two decades, proudly serving eco-friendly coffees and locally sourced café fare.

Then, about eight months ago, the owners created quite the brew-haha. They dared to change their name from Alterra … to Colectivo.

It sure got people perked up. Why, they steamed, would the company drop such a well-established name for one that was difficult to pronounce (it’s Co-lek-TEE-vo, we think) and spell (it’s one “l” of a trick)?

Oh, they had their reasons (which were outlined recently in an insightful presentation hosted in Milwaukee by the United  colectivoAdworkers). A few years before, the owners had sold the Alterra name, but not the company, to a large drink conglomerate. And since then, they’d begun to worry that they were losing control of their brand.

But this justification did little to avoid a latte public controversy – at least at first. Because it didn’t take long for people to see that the company was doing exactly what they said they’d do: keep delivering the product and the experience that had made the brand so cherished in the first place.

As we pointed out in an earlier post on the challenges of renaming, the success of a company name is ultimately what you make of it. In this case, what we see, now that the time to espresso outrage has passed, is that Colectivo is anything but a has-bean.

I still slip when I sip and call it Alterra every now and then. But, like many other coffee connoisseurs in the community, I have as much appreciation as ever for this buzz-worthy brand.

By any name, if they continue to stay true to their values, they’ll remain the roast of the town.


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