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The Starbucks Experience


Everybody loves Starbucks, its like everyone’s own creative work space where you can go to drink addictive lattes, get your name shouted out and work or head off to start or end your day. So are you really surprise that I decide to write about the Starbucks brand identity, brand essence — overall brand experience?

Not only from a consumers point of view but in general Starbucks is the coffee icon people either love or love to hate. The Seattle company opened its first shop in 1971, and all these years later, the company is still brewing up addictive drinks and controversy all over the world. Starbucks not only have what I would say some of the best drinks but one of the strongest brands.

Starbucks has done an excellent job of branding their company. It is the only coffee brand that is on the list of 100 most recognized brands in the world. Named after one of Moby Dicks characters “Starbucks” and founded by two teachers and a writer and the mermaid logo — not wonder the brand is exceptional!

What makes the Starbucks brand experience so ubiquitous that it ranks up there alongside Google, McDonalds and Coca Cola in name and brand recognition? I believe it has much to do with the identity and the essence of the brand. You might say, “What is the difference between a brand identity and brand essence?”

Here is what I mean — If you haven’t tried it yet you must try the Pumpkin Spice Latte, you’ll notice that the pumpkin spice latte is served with cinnamon on the top. That itself isn’t that remarkable, however, in this particular instance someone took the time to think about a seemingly insignificant detail. The cinnamon was probably poured through a filter that was fashioned in the image of the company logo or something as simple as a heart.

As far as I know this isn’t a system wide phenomenon. Someone decided to put some extra effort into the delivery of their product. As a result the consumer thought it was worthy of sharing and the next thing you know we are talking about the Starbucks Brand experience. Will this increase sales at Starbucks? Who knows, probably not, but it does help build Starbucks brand value. It is the little extras, the attention to detail that turn a routine visit for coffee into a product photo op. It’s memorable and it grabs attention, a pretty good brand engagement recipe.

Over time brands can drift off course for all kinds of reasons. Good brands are able to recognize this and address it head on. Several years ago Starbucks began to lose its edge, losing ground to the competition. To their credit the company called a time out for a corporate re-education or now of days re-branding, as expressed in the New York Times was an article called Starbucks Takes a 3 hour Coffee Break. This was a gutsy move; however, it spoke volumes about the connection between leadership, culture and the consumer experience. Good brands are vigilant, they pay attention to feedback and they ensure their employees are empowered to deliver on the brand promise.

What does your logo say about you? How would your customer answer the question?

Share and Enjoy Branding For Breakfast!

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