Loud and Proud: Our Branding (A case study)


“There is still a significant amount of work to do to achieve equality, and that’s why a percentage of all sales will be donated directly to charities protecting the rights of and advocating for the queer and neurodiverse communities.”


To create a thriving business, it must first and foremost be a project that you are passionate about. It’s not an exaggeration for the owner to pour their blood, sweat and tears into a business, especially in the early days. As a result, every independent business owner injects so much of themselves into their brand. Whether that’s on purpose or an inevitable side-effect. Businesses can act as conduits for creators to show off the parts of themselves that they love or reclaim the parts that they may have once been ashamed of. When a brand is authentic, you can feel it when you interact with a post on Instagram, meet a shop owner at a market, or make a purchase online. It’s all part of the charm of shopping small! 


When XO Coffee was founded, Kayleigh wanted to create something huge. A coffee brand that doubles as an online space showcasing “the brilliance of two unique communities” – Those who identify as neurodivergent and/or LGBTQIA+. There is no way you could pick up an XO product and not know immediately what they’re about. From the punny and apt titles of their blends – ‘I Can’t Think Straight’ and ‘On the Spectrum’ – to the bold and rainbow logo, to their slogan ‘giving diversity the beans’. This is a company that bears all in the name of representation. So far, Kayleigh has successfully created a company that isn’t afraid to celebrate minority groups, while also demanding representation, and raising awareness of discrimination. In a world of political silence filled with businesses too afraid to ‘take a stand’ for the risk of ‘alienating consumers’, XO offers a refreshing and brave approach. This approach is upheld by their commitment to authenticity, positivity, and advocacy. 


It is evident that remaining real and relatable is a priority for XO and it runs throughout all of the branding. Their online presence on social media [https://www.instagram.com/xocoffeeuk/] is a place where you feel truly connected to the person behind the business. Kayleigh is extremely present on social media with reels of coffee antics, personal recommendations, and opportunities to ‘get to know’ the entrepreneur. Kayleigh proudly presents her queer and neuro-diverse identity and provides a reliably steady flow of memes about just that on Instagram stories! 


Advocacy and representation are hugely important at XO Coffee. On the website, you’ll find Q&A blogs that are dedicated to amplifying individuals who share their first-hand experience of living as a neurodivergent and/or queer person. For Kayleigh, the website is a space where people can learn something new and feel supported. It is a platform for sharing experiences – even someone’s coming out story. That one shared story can lead to someone else feeling more seen and comfortable with themselves. This year XO are planning to build on the existing page and reach out to even more people to spread the platform even further.


“I love hearing how people come across our page or website. I did paid ads when we first started and although that didn’t result in sales, I’m really glad I did that. It got us exposure and pushed out to those in that minority group as well as allies and supporters!”


XO have done an amazing job at utilising the strengths of the support they do have. Upon inviting Chris to write for their blog they were able to share the voice of a passionate Neurodivergent LGBTQIA+ ally. This supports everything they represent; community, compassion, and courage. 


It is admirable to see a business that is so bold and authentic that is still so young. Their ability to use their brand to increase queer visibility, advocate for ND awareness and provide a stunning product is nothing short of impressive. XO Coffee is an example of a brand that is not afraid to be loud and proud, and it is clear that the mind behind it has been able to infuse their personality into every aspect in a truly organic way.  


Author: Holly Cowley

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“What sets you apart can sometimes feel like a burden and it’s not. And a lot of the time, it’s what makes you great.”

Emma Stone