The Beauty of Coffee Rings

I love coffee rings. What to some might be an annoying, ugly recognition of one’s sloppiness, I find to be a cool addition to any piece of paper. Seriously.

Each ring is unique, but strikingly similar. The varying thickness of the line. The addition of a splatter or two. The incomplete ring that is just a hint of a spill.

I don’t think I’m alone in this love for the rings. There are thousands of stock photos of them. Agencies, writers and coffee shops use them on their websites. They just look cool.

But, the visual characteristics of the ring aren’t why I love them. For me, it’s what the ring represents that earns my affection. You see, ever since my days of working at The Strategy Group, I’ve become a lover of delicious coffee. (Sidenote: My personal favorite and the brew of choice is the Spice Merchant’s Old San Francisco blend.) Coffee is a part of my daily routine – and not just in a my-day-can’t-start-until-I-have-my-caffeine-injection kind of way. But in a quiet, personal ritual to kickstart my day. (The caffeine dependence is now just a side-effect of that ritual.)


Many companies have devoted followers who will splash their favorite brands’ logos all over their clothing, cars and bodies. Some people might just like the look of the logo (especially if it’s designed by Chris Parks). But for most, the visual characteristic of the logo isn’t what earns the love – it’s what it represents: a beloved product, incredible customer service, or a life-changing brand experience.

Your brand’s logo is critical. It’s the visual cue designed to trigger your name in the minds of the people who see it. So it’s understandable why companies spend so much time, energy and resources on getting it right. But, far more importantly, companies need to spend time, energy and resources on getting who they are right. They need to uncover and articulate where they’ve come from, why they do what they do, what makes them better than their competition and how that connects to what their customers – or Tribe – want and need.

If you’re a start-up, a company looking to transition or just an organization who’s looking to retool their tired, outdated logo, I encourage you to develop, update or discover your brand before you ever get started on the logo.

Don’t just be the ring.

Be the coffee.

This is a repost from an old article at