Pranalika Arya


We breathe in the world of brands. Every now & then, we come across various kinds of brands, which we adore, we love or we dislike. Each brand tries to stand out amongst the crowd through their distinct brand identities, whether it’s their logos, communication, marketing campaign or etc.

In such a world of branded products, this man “Anna” stands out with his own personal branding arena. You can find him selling coffee on his cycle near Matunga Phool Gali road, wearing a simple striped shirt with knee-length tied up lungi. His attitude, his attire, his persona is very simplistic & grounded. He is known by his brand “Anna’s coffee” on those streets from evening 8.30pm to 1am every single day. He has been doing this for past 25 years. Initially, he used to commute to various places for selling the coffee via his cycle but past few years, he has fixed phool gali as his spot for selling his coffee which has become popular. His cycle is his brand shop. He has mounted the coffee container, coffee powder box, plastic cups along with the steel bucket and bowls on his cycle, which are all tied up together in an interesting way with a yellow colored plastic rope.

His brand “Anna’s coffee has no logo, no tagline, no brand identity & no marketing campaign. Then, what is it about his brand, which attracts the people towards it? “Personal branding” is the keyword. It starts off with self-packaging, self-marketing & self-selling mode. One has to know one’s unique selling points & one needs to communicate them effectively. This is exactly what Mr. Anna does. He is an expert in what he does. He has been alert, quick & efficient at providing the service at the same spot for years. You can hear people coming at his spot, saying “Anna, teen coffee”. As soon as he hears this, he starts with his super fast coffee making process, pours the ready coffee from steel bowl to plastic cup in the huge arc like motions of the hand, which brings the froth in the coffee. He serves the coffee in 2 mini plastic cups (stuffed over one another). He came up with this idea of serving since the coffee is extremely hot & hot coffee in single cup is difficult to carry. He sells this distinctively taste “Strong flavored milky coffee” which is one of the most important elements of his personal branding. Since it associates with the authentic flavor of South Indian coffee, people prefer this taste & aroma.
Some say it is difficult to find such taste & aroma in mainstream coffee brand shops. This way, he takes care of his brand user experience via expertise on such elements.

This branded world has also made our lives so virtually dependent & busy that we hardly find time to connect face to face in real. Yet in such a virtually connected world, people come in small or large groups to buy Anna’s coffee, wherein they interact & share stories amongst each other while sipping the coffee, standing or sitting beside Anna’s cycle. Thereby, he not only sells coffee but also creates an environment for “after-dinner” group interaction. The whole idea of having Anna’s coffee has become a connectifying element amongst the people. Inspite of being the consumers of mainstream coffee brands, people come from various places to sip his coffee after dinner time. Thereby, he has created a differentiated experience by providing an authentic distinctive flavored coffee & a space to connect, chat real-time versus virtual ones.

One can get inspired from Mr. Anna, how he stands out & has built his own personal brand by weaving various elements together. Thus, personal branding space can be very well understood & analyzed by looking at such interesting examples around us. It teaches us how varied human interactive touch points should be considered while crafting the personal branding.

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