Everyday Design- The Coffee Cup Sleeve

Jay Sorenson invented the “Java Jacket” in 1993 while working at a gas station. I love how he moved on from his original idea to one that actually solved the problem.


“Sorensen initially set out to design an insulated cup that could replace paper cups and Styrofoam cups, which were slowly being phased out as cities across the United States began to ban polystyrene food containers. But he couldn’t figure out an efficient way to package the cups for clients, neither nesting nor folding would work. He also reasoned, correctly, that not all coffee drinks needed that much insulation; his research indicated that only 30 to 40 percent of drinks sold at coffee shops required protection beyond the paper cup. Iced coffee drinks and lattes aren’t hot enough. The cup idea wouldn’t be economical for stores, it would have to go”. – Mark Wilson


Edible packaging – from gross to cool

There has been a lot of buzz about the edible pizza box, pioneered by Vinnie’s Pizzeria in Brooklyn.


Hmm.  Clever, but I put it on the “gross” end of the edible packaging spectrum.

More elegant, and functional is the edible coffee cup made by (of all people) KFC in the United Kingdom.

edible coffee cup

A few steps further down the cool design line and we arrive, not surprisingly, in Sweden.  Tomorrow Machine, a design studio, created this edible olive oil packaging.


I will definitely check this out, but in the meantime, I will keep enjoying the coolest, and most reliable edible package:  The ice cream cone.


Strategy – keeping it simple




“Strategy” is the most over-used word in business, yet many of us do not have a firm grasp on what it means.  Time for a simple analogy.  I use this one with my clients who often find it helpful.

Imagine we are on the shore and we need to get to an island.

The shore is our current situation.  The island is our goal.  How do we get from here to there?  We need a strategy!

Let’s list some possible strategies.  “Build a boat” and “swim” are usually the first two ideas.  Clients with more ambition (or budget) will say “build a bridge”.  More unconventional thinkers might say “walk”. Good point.  If the water is shallow, and free of sharks, walking is a great strategy.

We quickly see there are many possible strategies.  But which is best for us?  Here is the point where many companies go off track.  They go with a strategy that worked well in the past – radio ads, direct mail- or one that has a lot of buzz -“we need to be on SnapChat” – without full understanding their current situation and their current goal.

Your goal determines the strategy.  If your goal is new customer acquisition, you will try different strategies than if your big opportunity is to build your average check.  

So, let’s keep it simple.  (1) Understand your business situation, the nature of the shore, (2) Decide the top priority goal, which island you are trying to reach, and then (3) Pick your strategy.

Sh*t Marketers Say

I love marketing because there are so few rules.  But one rule I follow is “Think like your customer”.  This is good business, and its also good karma because thinking like one’s customer is closely related to my other favorite principle, “Love your customers.”

The simplest way to think like your customer is to speak like them.  Describe your brand as your customers do.  And never describe your brand or company in words your customers would never use.

Here’s an example from the restaurant world.  Restaurant companies often describe themselves as “concepts”.  Yet, can you image a couple of co-workers discussing their lunch options and saying “I feel like going to a nice concept today”?

So purge the corporate-speak from your brand, and your company, and speak like your customers because you love them.  

Instagram vs. Facebook

Instagram rules, Facebook drools. Although Facebook’s worldwide users have grown very steadily over the years, their reputation, especially with marketers, is not great.  “No one sees my posts because of that algorithm”…”Once my grandmother joined, it was over!”… Here’s another idea:  How many negative posts have you seen on Instagram?  It is inherently a happy place.  Facebook is a rant-friendly platform, a digital stitch and bitch.  It can be a lot of fun, but it can also grow tiresome.  Instagram is the photo album of the good times, great food and cool places that made you happy.  It turns out, your friends want to see you be happy.