Kitu Life Redesigns Super Coffee

The DeCicco brothers (Jordan, Jim and Jake) appeared on Shark Tank, an investment-focused reality show in the United States this past February. They were seeking investment dollars in exchange for a stake in their beverage: an enhanced ready-to-drink Super Coffee. While they didn’t go home with a deal, they did see a bump in sales and interest.

Super Coffee, a functional ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee with 10g of protein, 5g of MCT Oil, 0g of sugar, 80 calories and 150 ml of caffeine, was originally created in brother Jordan’s dorm room at Philadelphia University in 2015 under the brand name Sunniva, which means “gift from the sun.” The student athlete wanted a healthier alternative to the bottled coffee and energy drinks loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients.

As they geared up for a national launch, the DeCicco brothers realized they needed to take their original vision and figure out a way to grow it. They tapped brand development and design firm Tigre, which guided them in developing a strategy for the business based on their passion and their authentic beliefs, which included: identifying their target consumer, creating messaging to translate their beliefs internally and externally, and expanding the product line. The core message, “Change Your Energy, Change Your World,” came out of this strategy.

The DeCicco brothers decided to rename the brand, Kitu, referencing both ‘key to life’ and a nod to the Keto-type diet and the company, Kitu Life. Following the rebrand, the next step was to redesign the Super Coffee line. “We needed to clearly communicate the proposition, point of difference and benefits in a consumer friendly ‘digestible’ format,” says Tammy Vaserstein, creative principle, Tigre. “We did this through the use of colour and a strong communication hierarchy that stands out on shelf and in someone’s hand.” The original wave lines evolved into a bold stripe, reminiscent of an athlete’s jersey or a flag, providing a sense of identity and performance. When viewed standing together on shelf, they create an upward motion, further communicating positive energy.

The evolutionary design retains the white background that helps the RTD coffees to stand out on a crowded and dark shelf. The wave lines are also evident in the new Kitu brandmark, designed to communicate smooth energy and to serve as a badge or seal of approval identifying ‘better for you energy’ products. “It’s incredibly important, especially for an emerging brand, that the design is ‘noticed’ when someone is carrying it – this badge identifies them as part of a team,” notes Vaserstein. A tear off label around the cap also includes the ‘Positive Energy’ message.

The shelf-stable Super Coffee line features four 12-oz RTD coffees (maple hazelnut, vanilla bean, cream black, smooth mocha) in plastic bottles with shrink wrap.

Primarily targeted to male, ‘Ath-lifers,’ who live a healthy and active life style and approach life with an athlete’s mindset; sense of drive, passion, teamwork, the rebrand is also designed to appeal to a secondary audience of men and women ages 18 – 40.

“Our goal with Kitu is to be America’s healthy energy alternative to all of the sugary options that exist today. While our original packaging did a good job of articulating the functional benefits of the product, it didn’t tell the story of what the brand stands for,” says Jim DeCicco, CEO, Kitu Life. “Tigre was able to take three years of brand building and communicate it succinctly in an attractive visual design and a messaging hierarchy that captures our culture in a concise platform,” DeCicco adds.

A sub brand of Super Creamers is also being introduced in flavours: Original, Vanilla and Hazelnut in 32-oz format. Super Creamers allow anybody to enhance their coffee, tea, or smoothie experience with zero sugar, lactose-free protein, and healthy fats from coconut oil.

Super Coffee and now Super Creamer is sold in grocery stores, convenience stores and fitness locations such as Wegmans and Fairway in the Northeast US. To drive trial, the company plans large-scale field marketing and in-store sampling.

Kitu Life Inc was founded in 2015 by Jordan, Jake and Jim DeCicco. The DeCicco brothers were each collegiate athletes with a passion for nutrition and wellness. Today, the New York City-based company has 17 full time employees and has secured several million in seed funding from private investors. Kitu is poised to raise its Series A round of funding in Q4 of 2018.

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