The Carlos Santana Coffee Company

Apr 05, 2021  | 

Launching a Global Coffee Brand

Two years of collaboration and rapid problem-solving amidst a pandemic later, we’re finally ready to share one of our most exciting projects to date: The Carlos Santana Coffee Company. 

The true kickoff of this venture started at the beginning of 2019 when parent company Icon Global set the wheels in motion for this new brand. Lift Division was to drive all branding and digital marketing efforts for the Carlos Santana Coffee Company, including an E-commerce website and creative branding elements.

The Road to Building a Brand

If a coffee line represented Carlos Santana, it had to be a reflection of his personal brand and be embraced naturally by his loyal fans. His line boasts six different specialty blends, each sourced from around the world. The beans are roasted by a 4th-generation importer, roaster and packaging company, ensuring only the best quality and care throughout the process.

Perhaps most important to Santana was the role The Milagro Foundation would play in his new brand. From its inception, this coffee company was designed to give back. A portion of all proceeds goes toward Santana’s foundation, providing grants to children in underserved communities to provide them with proper education, health and arts opportunities. 

With this in mind, we needed to develop a brand that is as inspiring and authentic to Santana as his heart and charitable missions are. To do so, we focused on the essence of Santana: His soulful and sincere aura and vibrant, legendary impact all came into play when creating the vision for his coffee company. Our team had these goals in mind last February when boarding a flight to Las Vegas to meet Santana and his team.

Creative Direction on the Santana Photo & Video Shoot

As Lift Division’s very own Sarah Carnes put it, “traveling to Vegas was a true whirlwind.” Our Creative Director was new to Lift Division but ready to apply years’ worth of experience in directing photography and videography. She knew each creative asset would provide the building blocks for the website and digital platforms, and creating a roadmap for consistency was crucial. 

Ahead of the trip, our team worked diligently to put together a detailed schedule for each day. Working with in-house personnel and outside creative teams to develop a set design, plan interviews and map out an extensive shot list is no small task. Sarah worked with Jamie Stephens, our Chief of Digital Strategy, to put together the production days ahead of time and develop the company’s desired aesthetic. With a clear vision in mind and careful preparation in place, the team was ready to tackle shoot day. 

The day began by transforming Santana’s studio into an elaborate set, establishing the Carlos Santana Coffee Company’s vibe and tone. After briefing amongst teams, everyone got to work producing a brand video and documenting Santana and his new coffee line.

Our team ensured photos of each product were captured along with styled images of Santana playing guitar and interacting with his coffee. Finally, it came time for Santana to sit down to film a brand video. We prompted him with the right questions to help convey the sentimental meaning he finds in coffee and the passion he has for his foundation. When it was all said and done, we walked away with photography and videography to use across our marketing efforts—including the website.

E-Commerce Website Development & Social Media

With the necessary pieces in place, we were ready to move forward with the E-commerce website. The website would serve as a central hub, facilitating all Carlos Santana Coffee Company blends and merchandise sales. It needed to be efficient and user-friendly, and the message needed to resonate with Santana’s audience. Jamie spearheaded the website design, ensuring it told the story of the new coffee line while also giving customers a functional place to shop.

In addition to a professional website, trusted brands need a social media presence. Our team got to work establishing Facebook and Instagram profiles for the company and scheduling content that would introduce the Carlos Santana Coffee Company to the world. Teasers, announcements and product reveals informed our audience about the company’s purpose, generated interest among Santana’s audience and established credibility. It also created a space for customers to ask questions, and share their excitement and offer feedback. 

The Beginning of a Brand Endeavor

The website and creative assets laid the perfect foundation for launching the Carlos Santana Coffee Company. Word of the new coffee line has quickly spread across social media and in online publications including Delish, Food & Wine and Mashed. This is only the beginning of an exciting journey, and we can’t wait to reach even more fans of Santana and specialty coffee alike. 


By  Sarah Carnes

Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Sarah had an interest in art, writing and technology from a very early age. She spent her childhood building websites and designing album artwork. Fortunate enough to attend a high school that offered graphic design classes, she was able to pursue her passion and expertise earlier than most of her peers.

Sarah oversees all operational and visual aspects of Lift Division, including design, community management, photography, videography, recruitment and company initiatives. With over 15 years of experience in marketing, Sarah has been instrumental in the high growth of multiple companies and brands, which included helping a company flourish from a $10M to $45M company. She innovates, leads and executes strategic marketing initiatives from the ground up.

Sarah has held various marketing and design positions including Brake Printing, Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan, Westminster College and Fresh Ideas Food Service as the Director of Marketing. Her career has allowed her to innovate, lead and execute strategic marketing initiatives from the ground up while managing a team of digital marketers. Sarah has managed and developed marketing, communication, branding, digital communities and creative direction for various companies throughout her career.