Singapore loves coffee. We love it so much that in accordance with statistics from specialist coffee news publication Perfect Daily Grind, we consume over 15,000 metric tonnes of it per year—or 2.6kg per capita annually. But with an average 15-gram cup costing the planet the equivalent of two kilometres of driving to produce, more and more latte lovers are finding themselves asking: Is there a way to enjoy your morning brew without harming the planet?
Southeast Asia’s pioneer certified B-Corporation and Singapore's first, Bettr Barista, is taking on this challenge.
Established in 2011, Bettr Group describes itself as a locally rooted specialty coffee company, whose mission centers around inspiring consumers to make discerning and responsible purchasing decisions when it comes to daily consumption. As a Group, their goal is to build an ecosystem that actively encourages consumers to demand higher standards of ethics, transparency, and accountability in business operations, practices, and relationships with partners and suppliers.
But in a world full of preaching 'do good' messages about consumption, how do you shift collective mindsets and re-educate consumers without sermonising sustainability?
Through re-engineering the outlook on it and realigning the focus from flawlessness to embracing the art of imperfectly trying.
Partnering with Anak (The Secret Little Agency's design practice), Bettr is unveiling a new brand identity in a bid to create a more genuine and honest connection with a disillusioned audience and make a complex problem not just relatable, but also entertaining.
With the motto "Scr*w perfect, make impact" as the centrepoint of the rebrand, the coffee Group has repackaged its line of products to achieve a more eye-catching and meaningful look— incorporating contemporary design trends through the use of retro typography and illustrations. At the core of the brand is a fully-realised world resembling a fictional series, with dimensional character personalities rather than merely illustrated mascots. Planet Bettr, inhabited by three 100% flawed yet relatable anti-heroes, reflects the challenges faced in striving for positive change—a narrative inspired by Bettr’s own journey as a B-corp company.
To convey these stories, a narrative graphic system was employed on various surfaces, deviating from traditional coffee packaging norms. The raw, loose-edged illustration style, combined with a bold, unfussed logomark, and complemented by an honest tone uncommon in the realm of coffee branding. The brand was officially launched under the new tagline: "100% Bettr", encapsulating the idea that nobody is 100% perfect, but the collective effort can make the world 100% better.
"Inspired by Bettr’s approach to sustainability, we wanted an approach to the brand that would actually move the needle versus a brand that was mere paint and fluff. We felt the most effective and actually inspiring way to get there was to be blatantly truthful. About the world of sustainability, about the personalities and people that are a part of it. In the landscape of all things social impact, there is a strong tendency to portray sustainable practices as something simple, something colourful, or something easily attainable. The truth is, that’s rarely the case. Oftentimes, the journey is difficult, murky, complex and beset by troubles," shared Pan.
The creatives also addressed the challenges and concerns in presenting characters with imperfections, highlighting the positive impact of removing the burden of correctness from 'doing good.'
"When we lifted the weight of correctness from ‘doing good,’ it made the social impact more relatable and accessible. There is a general tendency to go for a ‘perfect’ [or] ‘all or nothing’ approach when it comes to ‘doing good.’ I.e., Bringing your own plastic bag ain’t good enough, you need to avoid flying, shop sustainable brands, visit your grandma every week, and share all the right reels on IG. Being virtuous quickly becomes so burdensome that inertia and fear quickly set in. That’s why we wanted to free social good from the burden of perfection," continued Pan.
Pan also explained how they crafted universally relatable yet specific imperfect traits for the characters. The decision to create characters as weird creatures, free from cultural baggage, allowed them to represent and resonate on a larger scale.
"This is how we imagine the audience journey: We want our audience to remember that you don’t need to be a perfect saint to make your mark on the world. You can feel incredibly stressed all the time and yet feel optimistic about our shared future. You can have a messy personal life and yet be a proud eco-campaigner. You can say no to bad coffee farming whilst saying yes to the occasional wagyu beef steak."
Looking into the long-term, the team envisions their imperfect characters influencing brand loyalty and continued engagement, comparing their creations to a Netflix cartoon series. As a brand, Bettr hopes that their approach influences the way consumers perceive and engage with not just their coffee as a socially responsible option, but most importantly, that it also inspires a more genuine conversation in other social impact businesses.
"Hopefully, the audience sees the bravery it takes for a brand like Bettr to take this stance, not just in the branding but as an approach to business. And that would create a ripple effect in how more social impact businesses tell their truth, so us as an industry can collectively achieve this difficult but combined aim more effectively," concluded Lee.