Get the tea on effective tea branding as we explain all in this ultimate guide. No matter whether it’s caffeinated, herbal, loose leaf or bagged you’re sipping, a well-executed brand strategy for your product is a must. This is because your brand is your company’s identity. It’s visually represented through your design choices and, quite frankly, it boils down to the details.

Think about how your favorite tea companies brand themselves. There’s a big difference between DAVIDsTEA and Twinings, right? That doesn’t make one necessarily better than the other, but it does shape how you perceive these brands and it often makes one more appealing to certain buyers than the other. There are lots of ways to brand your tea and your company, and whether it’s better for your brand to stick to traditional tea themes or totally bust out of the box depends on the perception you want people to have of your brand.

Ready to give your tea brand a delectable look and feel? Read on to get the most out of your shelf life in this ultimate guide to tea branding.

Brewing up your tea brand

Effective branding means knowing your product and buyer base inside and out. People drink tea all over the world… all different kinds of tea, served up all different ways, for all different occasions.

Tea branding illustration with gradient
Illustration by OrangeCrush
illustrated logo showing a cup of tea with a bird on it set in front of a school
Tea is often associated with UK culture. Logo design by anana14
illustration of two people sitting at a table enjoying matcha
It’s just as frequently associated with Japanese culture. Illustration by Fe Melo

Although the world of tea is broad, your brand isn’t. To narrow down everything you need to brand your tea effectively, ask yourself the following questions:

What kind of tea is it?

Does your brand only offer one specific varietal, or do you offer a range? Branding for a company that strictly offers up high quality matcha is different than branding for a company that has a range of different teas.

Just like with wine and beer branding, the tea varietal you’re offering should be one of your first and most important considerations when you’re creating a brand. And if it’s multiple types, determining how to visually distinguish between them while maintaining a cohesive brand identity needs to be part of the plan.

three varieties of yerba mate packaging side by side
This tea’s packaging incorporates pictorial preparation instructions. Packaging design by -Z-
bright alternate tea packaging
If you specialize in multiple types of tea, lean into alternative color ways. Packaging design by JCZM 精诚智美 via Behance.
bright alternate tea packaging
If you specialize in multiple types of tea, lean into alternative color ways. Packaging design by Kris Nguyen via Behance.
two tea boxes side by side, one blue with Moroccan mint and one red with Japanese sencha
Maintain a cohesive brand by keeping the logo the same despite changing the rest of the design. Packaging design by garryveda.com
pink and peach taiwanese tea packaging
Perhaps, when it comes to tea, you’re after one thing only. Packaging design by 雷 芳瑜 via Behance.

Think about how you can visually represent the kind (or kinds) of tea you’re offering. For example, you might want to color-code your teas, with a green package for your green tea, a white package for your white tea, a black package for your black tea and so on. You can even take this beyond the boxes and brand them right down to the individual tea bags—which can make for a beautiful rainbow when a customer first opens a variety pack.

Another way to do this is to show the tea’s ingredients on the label, like garryveda.com does in their packaging design for Mt Mudeung kombucha below.

two kombucha bottles, each with a label showing its ingredients
Displaying your tea’s ingredients can really get buyers salivating. Packaging design by garryveda.com

How (and when, and why) are people drinking it?

Hot or iced? Or both?

Through a Keurig machine? Steeped in a mug? Carefully measured and funneled into an infuser? Set out in a big jug under the sun all day?

TESS tea packaging pastel colored campaign
Who said tea was chilled? Packaging design by Rush Media and team, via Behance.
tea set still life product photography
Design by 云长 陈 and David 吕大卫. Design by MAKI Studio and team. Via Behance.
branding for cbd tea with gradient effect
To sip slowly in your pyjamas? Branding by Scott Wilson, via Dribbble.
light blue and black minimalist logo showing a bubble tea cup and burger bun
Maybe from an ice cold can? Packaging design by Aimad Imime, via Dribbble.

At home, curled under a blanket with a book in hand? On the run, sipping from a thermos while sitting in traffic? Laughing with friends at a cute tea shop?

blue canister of tea with a tea leaf shaped like the moon
Maybe as they’re winding down to go to sleep? Packaging design by Lasko
Tea brand identity pack in monochrome
There’s a well-known overlap between tea drinkers and bibliophiles. If those are your people, speak their language in your branding. Logo design by binaryrows
colorful tin with bold imagery and text
Or to wake up and greet the day! Packaging design by lliiaa
green logo showing a video game controller with a tag like a teabag
Maybe while they’re waiting for Santa? Packaging design by Murat Ismail.Design by MAKI Studio and team. Via Behance.

How, when and why people are drinking your tea all play a big role in determining what they expect from your brand—and from this, how your brand should look. Your tea packaging and branding needs to evoke the right emotions, moods and cravings to connect with your ideal customer.

Where can people buy it?

Another important part of your brand is where people buy it. Tea drinkers have different expectations for artisanal tea blends, carefully scooped from a glass jar into a white paper bag, than they do for a box of 100 bags they toss in their grocery cart. That’s not to say effective branding is more important for the former than the latter. But the kind of branding that works for artisanal tea brands is very different from the branding that works for mass consumer tea brands.

TeaTime logo
If your tea brand is a tea shop, your brand identity should include a logo that works on signs and shop exteriors. Logo design by gamboling

If you haven’t worked out where and how you’ll be selling and distributing your tea brand, do that before you move onto designing the brand identity.

For example, if your brand is built on offering an international collection of teas delivered in a monthly subscription box, you might want to lean into geographic or cultural branding. This could be a collection of flags showing all the countries your tea is sourced from, or it can get more specific, like imagery of animals, plants or landmarks of the regions your tea is from. Think pandas, lotus flowers or the Great Wall of China if you’re branding a Chinese tea.

collection of white tea tins, each with a black and white photo of a different animal
Communicating different regions of the world doesn’t have to be explicit—you can do it with all different animals, too. Packaging design by Kirill D.
packaging label showing a pagoda, cherry blossoms and design elements in pink, green and white
This matcha uses Japanese imagery in its branding to remind consumers where matcha hails from. Design by Mila Katagarova

Who are the people drinking it?

And then there’s one of the most important questions for any entrepreneur to answer when they’re branding a product: who is the target buyer?

white tea box with purple text and illustrations of blueberries
If kids are your tea’s biggest fans, say so. Packaging design by TalciocCreative
dark purple tea label with gold and blue text
Design something your audience will connect with, like this tea specifically branded for astrological signs. Label design by alezane

Identify your audience

Are the people drinking your tea the kind of people who drink tea every day, or is it something they brew up more infrequently, maybe for a special occasion or when it’s cold outside? Are they young and hip or more mature and traditional? Knowing your tea’s perfect customer and their preferences will provide you with valuable information for your tea branding.

If you know tea drinkers, you know they’re a lot of things… but above all else, they tend to be loyal. Getting a longtime tea drinker to try out a new brand can be way more challenging than getting a beer drinker to try a new craft brew because tea is a daily comfort and waker-upper for devoted fans. This can make it incredibly tough to successfully launch a new tea brand and attract drinkers who already have their “daily drivers.”

Persuade the loyalists

Strong, effective brand positioning gives tea drinkers besotted with a brand reason to sip something new. This is where getting to know exactly what your target audience wants in the tea they buy is critical. If they’re not adventurous in their tea selection, don’t try to reinvent the wheel and offer them up packaging or a tea-brewing process they’ve never seen before.

Launching a new tea brand can actually be easier when your segment of the market is into new, novel flavors because you don’t have to break through as thick a wall of bias and loyalty with them. But in any case, create branding that’s as precisely honest about your tea as possible—because no matter what drinkers are looking for, they’re most likely to buy your product if it promises to give them what they want.

bold patterned tea box beside a hot cup of tea and a hookah
Maybe your tea is the perfect pairing for Mediterranean food and hookah. Packaging design by Graphic Factory
rooibos tea and branding on a pastel pink background
Or maybe your tea originates from South Africa’s red bush plant. Packaging design by Amanda Raath via Behance.

The recipe to creating tasty tea brand design

Once you’ve determined who will be drinking your tea, how they’ll be drinking it and where they’ll be buying it, you can show them that your tea is the perfect choice through thoughtful tea brand design.

Let’s get visual

At the core of any kind of brand design is creating a visual identity. This includes a color palette, a logo, fonts to use anywhere you communicate your brand through text (like on your website and your tea’s packaging) and a general style for the images you use.

We’ve covered all of these aspects of branding in detail, so if you’re not familiar with them, take some time to read our posts on choosing brand colors, choosing the right fonts for your brand, how to communicate your brand through shapes and creating your comprehensive brand identity.

collection of tea canisters with black and white labels and sans serif text
Every design choice you make communicates something about your brand, even if that design choice is deliberately generic-feeling. Packaging design by it’s a DOG’s life

When people think of tea, there are a lot of “stock images” that come to mind. For many, the word “tea” conjures up images of tea parties complete with frilly dresses and delectable finger sandwiches—sometimes with the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat seated at the table.

photo of food and tea on a table with a stuffed white rabbit
At Alice’s Tea Cup in NYC, the branding extends to the shop’s decor. Via The Dreamy Bunny
multicolored tea box illustrated with imagery from Alice in Wonderland
Even people who’ve never read Lewis Carroll’s famous work know enough to recognize Wonderland imagery when they see it. Packaging design by bera

For others, it’s the Kermit meme.

Kermit meme imagery for lipton
Via Know your Meme

And these aren’t the only images that automatically come to mind when people think of tea… it can also conjure up thoughts of sweet tea glasses sweating on a hot day or a historical event like the Boston Tea Party. It might make sense for your brand to play with this kind of “stock imagery” that comes to mind for so many, but don’t feel like you have to work with one of these. Develop a brand persona that feels like it communicates your unique tea and the niche you’ve carved out for it.

glass tea bottles with cat-shaped labels
Alternatively, your brand can play with well-known images that aren’t traditionally associated with tea. Label design by CristianGarcia

Take a look at Teavana’s branding for example. Teavana, which was acquired by Starbucks in 2012, found success in the late 1990s and 2000s as a mall-based brand offering upscale craft teas, tea blends and tea paraphernalia.

abstract geometric image of a person sitting with a bowl
Back when Teavana had physical storefronts, this logo meant you were entering a warm cave of drinkable comfort. Via requinx.com

In their old logo, they communicated a sense of calm and wellness (two values often ascribed to tea) through a geometric person sitting cross-legged with a cup of tea. The warm coral suggests a vibrancy from consuming the tea, and the overall simplicity of the logo suggests a down-to-earth freshness. It says these aren’t processed, packaged teas; they’re natural loose leaf teas.

All of these visual elements contribute to creating a well-rounded tea brand.

The essential blend of branding

No matter what flavor you’re steeping or which kind of connoisseurs you’re courting, a full-bodied tea brand needs:

  • A logo
  • A website
  • Social media profiles
  • A brand voice
  • Packaging design
yellow logo with white text outlined in blue
Most teas don’t call their drinkers “ya’ll.” But for some brands, it’s the only thing to call them. Logo design by bo_rad

Of course your brand identity can have more components, like custom tea pots or a create-your-own-blend recipe book. But these aren’t crucial. Think of these as potential brand enhancers that further your brand recognition with a specific category of tea fans.

Bubble tea uniform design by Pedro Costa. Via Dribbble.
Tea brand stationery design by Muhammad Ali Effendy. Via Dribbble.

Serving up your tea

Connect to your audience

Once you have a fleshed-out brand identity, it’s time to serve it up to the world. Some tea brands found huge success connecting with audiences through friendly mascots, like PG Tips’ Monkey and Tetley’s Tea Folk. These mascots aren’t currently in use, but that doesn’t mean we’ll never see them again… or that creating a mascot wouldn’t work for your brand.

With your brand persona in mind, brainstorm the kinds of characters your target audience would connect with—are they the kind of tea drinkers who’d smile seeing a cute bear or a multitasking octopus on the packaging as they prepare their daily cuppa, or would they get a kick out of a wild-eyed Mad Hatter on the bags of loose leaf they buy? If not, don’t worry—not every brand needs a mascot. Whether one would be an asset to yours depends entirely on your audience and the most effective way to connect with them.

Connecting with tea drinkers means making prospective buyers aware of your brand. 

Connecting with tea drinkers and bringing your brand to the market is more than developing distribution channels and fulfilling orders (though these are a big part of it). It also means making prospective buyers, whether they’re looking to buy your tea wholesale to stock in their own stores or they plan on drinking it themselves, aware of your brand.

Spread awareness

Setting up shareable components of your branding like your website and social media profiles is the first step of gaining awareness. But also by engaging with buyers in a way that makes sense for your brand and your goals.

For some brands, this means writing a captivating brand story—then telling it somewhere the right buyers will read it, like on the sides of your tea’s bottles or in a video on your website. For others, buyer engagement comes from a conversational blog that offers up interesting brewing methods, fun tea trivia and new tea recipes readers might not have known before.

3D buddha figure made of matcha powder in a white box
Maybe the thing that makes your tea unique is its shape! Packaging design by Valerina_W
round logo showing plants, pictured with a collection of tea accessories
Visual branding is all about telling a story in images. Logo design by Dileny

Your tea’s packaging should be an important focal point when you’re developing your brand identity because you’re offering a tangible product. If your product is loose leaf, bagged, bottled or canned tea, most drinkers’ introduction to your brand will happen on a store shelf.

packaging for loose leaf teabags
The right packaging makes your product stand out on the shelf. Packaging design by Ying He and Heng Wang via Behance.

If you’re operating a tea shop, the introduction might happen on your sign or on social media. These kinds of brands need to have eye-grabbing logos to draw potential buyers to their product, but they, too, need great packaging—and interior design.

Photo of branded tea machine.
Tea, but contemporary. Design by Maxim Cormier, ori studio and Xuechen Fan. Via Behance.
Cafe branded uniform and menu
Brand your cafe consistently. Design by Aria Dimaano. Via Behance.

Once you’ve determined who your target drinkers are and when, why and how they like their tea, determine how to serve up your tea in a way that appeals to them. That means doing some market research—you might conduct online polls, focus groups, surveys or take a look at what the competition’s doing. What you find might surprise you… and what you initially think might work might not end up being the best choice.

Do some market research and take a look at your competitors to determine how you can appeal to your target drinker
white paper cup with blue holder
And once you know everything about how your buyers like their tea, you can move into effective product branding. Cup design by ChemcoRD
glass bottle with illustrated label
Maybe you’ll find your target drinkers like their tea to look like gin. Packaging design by Miriam Goldstein, via Behance.
white ornate logo pictured with a collection of photos of tea
Or maybe they prefer a slower, sit-down tea ritual. Logo design by Graphz RealTM

Get piping hot (or super cool) tea brand design

So you’ve got amazing teas you’re ready to share with the world. Yum! The next step is creating a tea branding strategy that resonates with your target audience. Remember, effective tea brand design is design that communicates what you’re offering, who you envision drinking your tea and what makes your tea special. Whether your brand is bold or subtle, best served with sugar or meant to be taken straight, position your brand for success by investing in top notch tea branding.

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