There is something in the nature of
tea that leads us into a world of
quiet contemplation of life.

Lin Yutang(林語堂) | Chinese Writer


Tea, a Healthy Alternative to Coffee

Korea obtained the nickname of the “Republic of Coffee” as a lot of coffee shops are dotted in every corner of every street of the nation. From 2000 to 2011, the market share of coffee continuously increased in the entire beverage market, and it is now so natural to see people walking on the streets with a cup of take-out coffee in their hands. However, the beverage market in Korea has begun to change once again, as some consumers got bored with the saturated coffee market and started looking for healthier drinks. With the growing interest in “well-being” and “healing” among Koreans, tea came into the spotlight as an alternative to coffee. Various benefits of drinking tea were introduced, and a wide variety of tea that satisfy people’s appetite began to appear including premium tea, medicinal tea, herb tea and blending tea. Of these teas, the most successful one that got the most enthusiastic response from the public was bubble tea.

Gong Cha, a Tea Brand from Taiwan

The origin of bubble tea can be traced back to Taiwan. Taiwanese people love tea so much that they drink it like water. From the 1980s, they enjoyed their specialty beverage “bubble tea,” which was made by adding chewy tapioca balls and milk to savory brewed tea. Thanks to the long history of tea culture, there are many bubble tea brands in Taiwan. Among them, Gong Cha opened its first store in Kaohsiung, a city in the southern part of Taiwan, in 2006. Its name is a combination of Chinese characters “gong (貢),” meaning contribution or tribute, and “cha (茶),” referring to tea. Standing at a corner of an intersection, the first Gong Cha store is still crowded with Taiwanese people who are drinking tea day and night. Perhaps travelers from the west found it interesting that the Taiwanese bought their tea as take out instead of enjoying it at the comfort of their elegant residence in fine porcelain china. Now, Gong Cha is an international brand with nearly 800 stores in 19 countries.


Gong Cha store in Kaohsiung, Taiwan


Gong Cha’s popular drinks with various toppings and flavors

More Than just Bubble Tea, Introducing Pleasant Tea Culture to Korean Consumers

In the summer of 2012, Korea’s first Gong Cha store opened in the area near Hongik University in Seoul. Korean consumers, who were dying to try a new kind of beverage, showed great interest in Gong Cha’s bubble tea, and this Taiwanese tea brand greatly contributed to the spread of bubble tea in Korea’s beverage market. However, Gong Cha in Korea wanted to grow beyond a mere bubble tea brand. Gong Cha established aggressive goals to spread tea culture into the public and become a platform for advancing tea culture, through the introduction of Taiwan’s diverse tea drinks and special tea culture. In order to achieve these goals, it was essential to clarify the most important values of Gong Cha and define the identity of the brand.

An Exploration of Tea Plantation to Discover the Origin of Taiwanese Tea

The essential source for building the core values and identity of Gong Cha was decent understanding of Taiwan, the birthplace of the brand, and its tea culture. A thousand hearing is not worth one seeing, and a thousand seeing is not worth one doing. We, Sampartners, traveled to Taiwan to witness and experience Taiwanese tea culture. The popular and unique tea culture of Taiwan and the spacious tea plantation gave us fresh inspiration, and we could envision the new characteristics of our tea brand.


Alishan Mountain, the famous plantation for expensive, high-quality tea leaves in Taiwan

Gong Cha for Consumers, Gong Cha by Consumers

After earning brilliant insight through the experiences in Taiwan, we tried to listen to our consumers, which was the most fundamental process before setting up concrete concepts for the brand. Although Gong Cha had already appealed to a wide customer base, the customers had different impressions about the brand as well as a variety of suggestions for further improvement. We conducted in-depth interviews with our customers, observed customers in our stores, and held a co-creation workshop to share our insights and ideas with various experts from the field of creative. Based on these activities, we could grasp what the customers thought of Gong Cha and systemically figure out the requirements to better Gong Cha.


Co-creation workshop to find out fundamental needs from Gong Cha’s customers and build ideas to respond


Gong Cha's New Brand Philosophy (UP) / Brand Promise (DOWN)


Gong Cha’s new brand image – more tender and elegant


Gong Cha’s key visuals that expresses the elements of great tea by four patterns and colors


Gong Cha’s key visuals catching customers’ eyes in the stores


Gong Cha’s tea bottle designed for excellent portability

For Easier, More Enjoyable, and Impressive Service and Customer Experiences

Gong Cha had some matters of concern – complexity and difficulty. Regular customers of Gong Cha were familiar to its menu and ordering style. However, newcomers found it so hard due to the large selection of menu and complex ordering process, which made it less likely to revisit Gong Cha. Solving the problem that caused customers inconvenience and confusion was the biggest challenge for Gong Cha and an inevitable step to bring about change. We set strategic targets to improve the overall customer experiences in the stores – from entering to leaving, and revisiting – and produced innovative plans. The outcome of our efforts were “pre-order zone” and “menu board renewal.”


Pre-order zone for slow ordering – Considerate service for new customers


Improved menu board system for better understanding of ordering procedure

Gong Cha’s Tea Blenders, the Messengers of Tea Culture

Another aspect we spent time thinking over was the role of staff who the customers would meet in Gong Cha stores. The customers could enjoy a better service, if the staff received an expert education on tea and was able to provide information on Gong Cha teas to the customers, in addition to taking orders and serving drinks. In order to expand Gong Cha’s new brand concept to their service, we assigned the new identity of “tea blender” to the staff in Gong Cha stores. Tea blenders will play a pivotal role in developing a brand identity in Gong Cha locations, and furthermore, will be messengers who deliver Gong Cha’s original tea culture in direct and indirect ways.


Uniform, button, and name tag for tea blenders

A Storyteller Spreading Easier and More Pleasant Tea Culture

Gong Cha’s brand renewal project was not a simple renovation of its appearance, but was an attempt to create a new story for building the brand’s image. Our objectives were clear. The new Gong Cha should not bring a sense of unfamiliarity or split, but should offer more satisfying experiences to our customers. To this end, we paid attention to every little detail of Gong Cha. The reborn Gong Cha will be an amusing storyteller that presents its tea culture in a friendly, entertaining manner, as a pleasant brand and a cozy place near customers.





    Gong cha Korea


    Brand Strategy - sampartners
    Visual Concept & Design - sampartners
    Service Design - sampartners
    Photographer - Kim Wolf






    Space Concept & Design Development - Lee Woo Jin Associates





  • TEAM of ©sampartners

    Executive Director - 이창호
    Creative Director - 김지훈
    Designer - 김현진, 양한아, 김시내, 이수정, 김남규, Frank Baer
    Brand Book Designer - 조아름, 박예솔
    Project management - 홍상현


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    “한국여성고객의힘!”공차코리아,일본직접진출 | OCT6,2015

    공차, 세 번째 공항 입점 ‘인천공항 에어사이드점’ 오픈 | OCT 3, 2015