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Iced Tea Branding – Yours Or Theirs?

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

Some menu items, such as soft drinks, are profitable and strategic enough to warrant their own identity. Iced tea is one such item with compelling new data to support this critical marketing decision. After the “to brand or not to brand” question, owners and operators face another important choice: select an existing known brand that comes at a premium cost for instant awareness and loyalty, or create your own signature beverage with its own identity?

In soft drinks the choice is clear: “do it yourself” wouldn’t be prudent when iconic soda brands already own a place in consumers’ minds. Iced tea, however, represents an interesting strategic divergence from carbonated soft drinks when it comes to branding.

A recent Datassentials study* indicates that consumers give iced teas branded by serving location a slight edge in preference due to better taste, freshness, unique recipe and unique brewing method. In the research, those who favored major retail iced teas like consistency and familiarity – in other words, the right not to be surprised.

Over the course of the past decade a foodservice tea revolution has been brewing. Serving locations have proudly branded their own iced teas, led by major restaurants with brands that include Mickey D’s Iced Tea, Bojangles’ Legendary Iced Tea and McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea. These giants confirm that customers embrace their branded iced teas when they are prepared consistently and marketed with strategic messaging and memorable graphics. 

Truck stops and travel plazas can piggyback on this movement to increase profits from iced tea sales. Iced tea, prepared at your location, holds the promise of being a destination item, delivering an experience that cannot be achieved by patrons at home. Restaurant pioneers have recognized this opportunity and with strategic marketing assistance, they have increased sales with their own signature iced teas. You can too, with the added benefit of building your own brand equity that pays you.

*November, 2014, Consumer Omnibus, “Iced Tea,” copyright Datassentials, LLC

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FREE custom tea logo design! Email to receive free professional graphic services to create a custom branded, signature iced tea logo. Offer includes (10) free 7x5.5 POP signs introducing your new tea brand. Limited to first five responders, so reply now! Package value $185. the conversation!

/// S&D Coffee & Tea, in continuous operation since 1927, serves over 90,000 customers through national distribution and direct store delivery. S&D has been distinguished for supplier excellence by many of the largest retailers and consumers of coffee and iced tea, including McDonald’s and the U.S. Military. In 2009, S&D added a state-of-the-art Liquid Extracts Division, which extracts the flavors of coffee, tea and botanicals for use in iced coffee, shakes, ice cream and frozen desserts, energy drinks and other packaged and dispensed products. Operators can learn more about the innovative beverage solutions that S&D Coffee & Tea offers by visiting the company website at or by contacting Jim Edmonson at

The opinions and advice given by guest post contributors are not necessarily those of NATSO Inc. The posts should not be considered legal advice. Qualified professionals should be sought regarding advice and questions specific to your circumstances.

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About the Author

John Buckner

John Buckner

John Buckner joined S&D Coffee & Tea in 2009, after a 20-year career in sales and marketing for several Fortune 500 companies. He has a track record of generating profitable growth by building brands, successfully launching new products and gaining distribution.

His team is responsible for beverage strategies, new product development, customer-centered marketing, market research, merchandising, trade shows, media planning and advertising.

Buckner holds a master’s degree from the University of Virginia, and an executive MBA from Queens University’s McColl School of Business in Charlotte, N.C.