February 19th, 2018 - Brand Strategy

Who’s flying your freak flag?

I’m sitting on a Mexican beach drinking a strong black coffee. And it tastes glorious because the salt breeze is blowing and the ocean is winking at me.

I find myself lost in thought contemplating the years I’ve sat on this same beach watching the same ocean.

I fell in lust with Mexico back in the late ‘90s when my husband and I were dating. The language, the people, the colours. But it was when I walked down a little street in 2004 that Mexico firmly captured my heart.

I’ve watched my baby grow up on that street and on this beach with the friends we’ve made over all these years. But as the years flew by, our town has attracted more and more tourists. With these tourists came the businesses that cater to them and their ways. We watched our town disappear and I began to crave more Mexico in my Mexico.

Then last year a unique new building appeared on the beach. Various friends would text photos of the crazy and colourful place – an oddity, absurdity in their minds. A place that captured their curiosity but not their wallets. But me, I fell in love with those photos. It was like the building was flying my freak flag.

This building is not just a place, it’s a brand that calls me home. It speaks to my heart, whispering ‘Come join your tribe …’

So, of course, I researched VRBO, found a flat for rent and cha-ching … booked for February 2018, and here I am.

My new dream place feels like I’m back in the town I originally found. Gone are the typical chaise lounges claimed and filled by retired Canadians and Americans by 9 AM. The chaises have been replaced with a crazy mishmash of colourful and enticing places to curl up and nap or read or ponder life at any time of day. The retired gringos are absent. In their places are boistrous and fashionably dressed Mexican families that emerge around noon … civilized Larkins’ hours.

There are no potlucks and Tupperware, but a restaurant with a menu that boasts tacos and enchiladas, ceviche and tostados. No pasta, pizza, spring rolls or burgers. And the staff are wonderfully amazing humans who are perfect hosts.

Over the course of a few days it became clear that this was a building built by Mexicans for Mexicans – don’t book in if you aren’t up on your Español. And by all things holy, this builder understood brand. Play to your niche. Attract your preferred customers, roll out the red carpet for them, and don’t be afraid to repel the rest of the world.

Similarly, a short walk down the beach is an old Mexican hacienda that’s been refurbished by a couple out of the US. This is a place built by white people for white people. Bill, the owner, tells us he loves to fill the place with ‘white hairs’. They go to bed early and don’t cause any problems. So he caters to them hosting weekly social mixers, reserving their favourite units year after year, doing Costco runs to get the food they like, and making sure they aren’t disturbed by local beach vendors.

Yep, Bill knows his brand and isn’t afraid to broadcast it. His place is where you go when you want to be surrounded by other snowbirds, never learn a word of Spanish, or taste a bite of Mexican food.

Two places sharing a beach. Each understanding their niche and clearly articulating that niche to their guests and potential guests. Each booked solid year after year while neighbouring properties sit empty.

This is the power of brand.

A brand provides an experience.

Even from that first encounter with a brand – no matter how brief – people just know. They know a brand will roll out the red carpet for them, if they have the moxie to show up.

They know that experience, the exact experience they’re dreaming of, may cost a few more pesos but they’re eager to pay for that privilege.

1199 x 1094

With gratitude,

Shannon Larkins

Shannon Larkins

Founder, Blackcoffee Studio

Over the course of 15+ years, Shannon has grown Blackcoffee Studio out of a love for building brands and reputations. She serves up Blackcoffee as a morning ritual while caffeinating clients and readers on the regular. You can find her at www.BlackcoffeeStudio.com


Blackcoffee Studio

Blackcoffee is a premium brand development agency, offering luxury brand experience to clients at home in Calgary, Canada and around the globe. Brands create experience, set you apart from the competition and drive growth. Anyone can bulid a business but only the exceptional can create a brand. Are you ready?

Shannon Larkins

Shannon Larkins

Hi I’m Shannon, founder of Blackcoffee Studio. A former reporter, spin doctor and politico, I now focus on using my powers for good.

I create mighty brands for clients and share their stories with the world. I’m also rather addicted to my nutty family, dogs with pushed in faces, Mexico and of course coffee … black.