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What is it like to work at Cafe Nero?

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Jesus Garcia

We spoke with Karen Kidd, Head of Brand at Caffe Nero about what it is like to work at one of Europe's leading coffee house brands and the story behind their logo and in-store branding.
 
When did you join Caffe Nero? 
13 years ago. Every day is different, honestly. It drives me mad sometimes because I crave some normality! Working in the brand team means you can apply yourself to every facet of the business, so there is always a mountain of amazing opportunity with a brand rich in character like ours.
 
What was your background before joining Caffe Nero? 
Agency then taking a leap into client side. I stayed client side, preferring to get under the skin of a brand in its entirety. I think if you genuinely love something, you are thinking about it, or active within it, all the time. That’s how I feel about working with great brands; being on client side meant I could focus and develop one brand non-stop.  
 
What kind of people do you currently need in the business ?
Digital savvy, smart, tenacious, brand obsessive people. People who love their discipline and can apply it to a brand with untapped depth and character. People who rely on their agencies for ideas and storytelling wouldn’t like it here. People who love offers as a way to drive traffic, wouldn’t like it here. People who love brands and a slightly crazy culture where anything is possible, stay here a while.
 
What are the skills and style of the people who do well at Caffe Nero? 
In my team, it’s someone who asks for forgiveness rather than permission. There is no end to what can be achieved if people are resourceful and creative. People who are restless with compromise. People who genuinely believe in doing their best in everything they do, because it reflects on them as an individual. And people who totally get, that you need others to respect (and like!) you to get things done. So be genuine and be nice!
 
What is a typical day in the Caffe Nero Branding department like? 
Making a film. Dashing to stores and interviewing baristas for facebook content. Running a pitch for a new agency. Speaking to our awesome brand champions in every territory and seeing what assets we can share. Learning something new about coffee. This bit happens nearly every day – we never stop learning about coffee.
 
How would you describe the culture at Caffe Nero and where do you see yourself in 5 years time? 
Home. The culture at Nero is like home. But you have to work hard to keep it that way. We help each other, we fight and make up, we sometimes get things wrong, but we don’t go on about it – we just fix it. And we don’t allow divas or jobsworth people in, they ruin everything. In 5 years ..? Seriously, with a brand like ours, I just about see the end of the week it’s so manic!
 
What is your favourite piece of advertising ever? 
Sorry, not very original I know … but it’s Guinness and the horses. Second to that it’s the Economist when they first started their fabulous tone, and then it would be when French Connection launched FCUK. A whole bunch of firsts and absolute drivers in brand positioning. Am not sure anything has come close, for me, since.
 
What is your favourite Caffe Nero story and any other personal insights? 
Gerry – our founder – has so many stories in how he started the company. Not many people know as he’s a private person, so naturally I’ll tell you! Things like our signature colour blue. He chose it because it’s his mum’s favourite colour. He got to the actual tone of blue, from the cornflower fields in Italy he fell in love with. Another one, we have around 600 images we rotate on the walls in the stores and I know the story behind each one. They are real, genuine people and families. No-one was paid to be there, no models. They are heartfelt and authentic, and I love how they add to the character in the stores.
 
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To find out more about Caffe Nero, please call us at Ball and Hoolahan, on 0207 323 4041.