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In these sessions, Standard Bank invites some of their small business and entrepreneurial clients to an early morning power breakfast designed to jumpstart their day with coffee, connections, and kick-ass business ideas. A nugget of Starbucks Tribal Knowledge is the concept of ‘Talking Walls.’ Howard Behar, a long-time and since retired Starbucks executive, used to walk into a Starbucks and listen to the walls. Forget scouring over a store’s P&L report or reviewing employee surveys, Howard could gauge a store’s profitability and employee moral just by hearing what the walls were saying. Stores with walls talking good vibes were usually more profitable and had lower employee turnover rates. I was reminded of this ‘Talking Walls’ concept from reading Seth Godin’s post about a nice Starbucks experience he had recently. Okay, the obvious thing here is that this is the Starbucks marketing effort, almost in its entirety. BusinessWeek’s strong take on Starbucks ‘disappointing’ results with their Hear Music Media Bar drew the ire of Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman. I decided to run Howard’s business speak-laden letter through the BULLFIGHTER INDEX to determine how much bull he was spewing.
You can read Brand Autopsy’s take on the BW article here as well as my prior takes on the Starbucks music download strategy here and here.
The Deadprogrammer's Cafe Blog did some expert sleuthing to show the evolution of the Starbucks logo from the old school brown Nordic-inspired woodcut to the slicker, more contemporary logo we know today.
However, this logo evolution story failed to highlight the significant role the Il Giornale logo played in the evolution of the Starbucks logo. Lifting words directly from Howard Schultz’s POUR YOUR HEART INTO IT, here’s a more complete evolution of the Starbucks logo. HOWARD says: The fracturing of our humanity, fracturing of trust in public institutions and corporations has created significant cynicism.
At Starbucks, we have integrated ourselves in a way that is very different than selling a cup of coffee.
Starbucks Coffee introduced its Hear Music Media Bar concept in 45 Seattle and Austin pilot locations with much ballyhoo and media attention last year. Well … nearly 8 months have passed since Starbucks launched the Hear Music Media Bars and according to a BusinessWeek article [sorry, sub.
Hear Music insiders say the response at the stores in Austin -- a college and live-music town -- has been disappointing.
Like McDonald’s, Starbucks is a concept driven as much by real estate as it is by coffee and the coffee experience.
There is much to learn about Starbucks expertise in the real estate game and Arthur Rubinfeld, former EVP of Real Estate with Starbucks, shares many of these learnings in BUILT FOR GROWTH (Wharton Publishing, 2005).
For example, have you ever wondered why so many Starbucks stores are located near dry cleaners and video stores?
Small business owners looking to become big business owners should pay close attention to the site selection process Arthur shares in Chapter 14. Howard Schultz, Starbucks demigod, openly credits HB with making the company more customer-driven.
For those not in the know, Servant Leadership eschews the classical definition of a leader being a stand-alone hero.
In the foreword, HB shares the story of how in 2001, he returned to Starbucks to find the company leadership culture different than what he had experienced before. From an outsider’s perspective, there was nothing to complain about: the company’s financial achievements, growth and innovation were chugging ahead full steam, and partners devoted near-obsessive attention to quality and ethics. Orin and I began to evangelize the principles of servant leadership … we held trainings, read books, and more importantly, we lived it. Besides spreading the gospel of Servant Leadership throughout Starbucks worldwide, HB is also known for spreading weathered truisms, known affectionately as HB-isms, throughout the company.
Today the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran story announcing Starbucks plans to replace standard blurbs printed on the paper cups with inspiring messages designed to get customers to think and discuss. A few years ago, Starbucks created a magazine called Joe that had essays, stories and articles designed to get customers to think and discuss. Fast Company has a web-exclusive article, It's Not About the Doughnuts, on Dunkin’ Donuts' strategy to siphon business away from Starbucks . If you're going to take on Starbucks, the leviathan of the coffee business, you need an edge. In an unofficial 'speed and price' test, the author, Linda Tischler, visited a Dunkin’ Donuts in the Tribeca area and received her ‘small, skim milk, vanilla latte’ in 2 minutes, 4 seconds for a price of $2.16.
Speed and price is an important aspect to a great customer experience but is it more important than a clean store? Be it a glazed donut or a cup of coffee, I’ll gladly pay a little extra for something that is higher-quality, has more taste and flavor, and is served by a friendly employee in a clean store. On a relevant side note … read Laura Ries’ blog entry taking Starbucks to task for violating a branding law known as 'The Law of Contraction.' In the blog, Laura offers her opinions on why Starbucks is risking brand dilution by selling oven-heated sandwiches. Years ago Fallon (big-time ad agency) pitched Starbucks on the idea of doing short films as a marketing tool. The recent Business Buzzword Bingo postings from Seth Godin and Johnnie Moore reminded me of a Starbucks Marketing Bingo game Paul and I used to play back in the day (circa 2000). A recent BusinessWeek online article quotes Howard Schultz, Starbucks Coffee Chairman, as saying, "We (Starbucks) are much more than a retail store. Howard is clearly playing off Ted Levitt's enduring 'Marketing Myopia' business philosophy where Levitt says growth opportunities decline for companies because they define themselves too narrowly.
It’s my unoriginal take (which admittedly could use more thought behind it), companies suffer from Marketing Cornucopia and eventually stymie growth opportunities because they define themselves too broadly and fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all people. So … is Starbucks suffering from Marketing Cornucopia by defining themselves more as an 'alternative distribution' point and less as a third place experience provider?
I’m addicted because as a former long-time Starbucks partner (employee), I am fascinated by the conversations which take place between brand supporters, brand detractors, cheerleading Starbucks partners, and cynical Starbucks partners. The recent conversation (here and here) on Starbucks donating 50,000 pounds of coffee to US Troops stationed in Iraq has sparked some intense debate.
Company policy, as I knew it, has always been that Starbucks tries to avoid donating to causes with political or religious connections. And there is the recent conversation about Starbucks playing Christmas music beginning on November 8.
To give you some background, Starbucks has typically started its Holiday retail promotion the week before Thanksgiving.

As for the Holiday music … Starbucks has learned customers don’t really notice the festive Holiday signage but they do notice the festive music. Can you sell goods and services by telling consumers of the problems inherent in using them?
That’s the question the Wall Street Journal asks with regards to AOL’s current advertising campaign. So, does highlighting problems inherent with the Internet convey that AOL is part of the problem? Within the walls of Starbucks, the Starbucks Creative Group has had to endure a revolving door of departmental Vice-Presidents, the occasional wrath of a tyrannical CMO, and ever-increasing workloads and expectations from Starbucks project groups. However, through it all, they have remained dedicated to passionately expressing the essence of the Starbucks brand at every customer touch-point imaginable.
From napkins to paper cups, in-store posters to annual reports, t-shirt designs to in-store architecture – the Starbucks Creative Group tells the story of Starbucks in such a way that deserves more recognition than they receive internally or externally. Well … in their October 2004 issue, HOW design magazine has recognized the Starbucks Creative Group with their In-House Design Group of the Year Award.
One reason why the Starbucks Creative Group has been able to articulate the brand so well is because they live the brand. Another reason why the Starbucks Creative Group has been successful at conveying the brand is because the company chooses to InSource before they OutSource. The flat hierarchy structure of the creative team also contributes to a thriving work environment and culture.
While the article highlights Jeff Ashley, Bonnie Dain, Doug Keyes, and Thomas Prowell … there are three former Starbucks Creative Group partners who deserve recognition for their contributions to the design, the voice, and the style of the Starbucks brand –– Alice Meadows, Anna David, and Anna Sandilands.
Alice, Anna, and Anna may no longer work for Starbucks … but their combined spirit continues to work at Starbucks. Over at the Church of the Customer, Ben and Jackie introduced the blog world to John Winter Smith and his quest to visit every Starbucks company-owned location in the world. Here at Brand Autopsy we have a different take on Winter becoming the "Starbucks Jared." We contend Starbucks should acknowledge Winter in an ongoing manner, just not in every conceivable way that Subway acknowledges and promotes Jared.
As Ben and Jackie have taught us, customer evangelists exhibit fanatical behavior (some more fanatical than others).
Winter would be a more credible spokesperson, along the lines of Jared, if he exhibited a passion for aspects of Starbucks beyond its massive reach such as Starbucks involvement in local communities, its coffee quality, its business practices, etc. If you read Winter’s travel logs, you’ll notice that he admits to gagging and nearly vomiting after drinking too much Starbucks. For the record, we think Starbucks should ACKNOWLEDGE Winter in an ongoing manner just not as Subway acknowledges Jared. We also agree Starbucks SHOULD consider making a donation to a charity each time Winter visits a new store. Mark, Scott, Hugh, Nathan, Simon, and Brand Examiner Paul's Mom all added interesting perspective with their comments to my original post regarding the Fast Company article on Starbucks reinventing itself through revolutionizing the retail music industry. Please don't misunderstand me, I applaud Starbucks for trying new things to make sure the brand stays relevant.
What I find presumptuous is that burning music CDs will reinvent the Starbucks brand and that Starbucks believes they are poised to revolutionize the retail music business. However, the Starbucks brand does need to remain relevant and I suggest Starbucks do this through evolutionary means and not through revolutionary ways.
There is still plenty of opportunity for the Starbucks brand to remain relevant and to further evolve the Starbucks experience by focusing on their core competency of coffee. Cafe Starbucks - a full scale restaurant that never expanded beyond three locations in Seattle. Circadia - a radically hipper version of a 'Starbucks' complete with a performance stage and alcohol coffee drinks. Books - Starbucks partnered with Oprah Winfrey to sell Oprah’s Book Club selections as well as other books consistent with the 'Starbucks lifestyle.' After two years of sluggish sales, the partnership ended and Starbucks stopped selling books. Reading, Writing, Rhythm merchandise assortment - a failed attempt to reinvigorate slumping coffee-related merchandise sales by focusing on odd lifestyle products such as pencil sharpeners, leather bound journals, desk clocks, and other fancy office accessories.
Compare those failed revolutionary attempts to reinvent the brand with these evolutionary initiatives that have helped to bring new relevance to the Starbucks brand. Starbucks coffee on United Airlines - Before Starbucks was commonly available on every street corner, Starbucks partnered with United Airlines to not only improve airplane coffee, but also to sample the signature taste of Starbucks with millions of people who previously never had the opportunity to taste a richer, bolder cup of Starbucks coffee.
Whole Bean in Grocery stores - In the late 90s, Starbucks partnered with Kraft to offer whole bean coffee in the grocery channel … a retail channel where something like 95% of all coffee is purchased.
All of these successful initiatives clearly leveraged Starbucks core competency of coffee to bring new relevance to the Starbucks brand. The article focuses on Starbucks recently implemented new-concept music store where a customer can handcraft a personalized music CD while a Barista handcrafts their grande, non-fat, no foam vanilla latte.
The article goes on to reference Theodore Levitt’s “Marketing Myopia” assertion that companies should not narrowly define the business they are in and how Starbucks is clearly not limiting their business to the coffee business, but rather to a lifestyle of comfort, affluence, and convenience.
Having worked for Starbucks from 1994 to 2003, I read this Fast Company article with a somewhat skeptical insider’s eye and left with questions related to music, margins, motives, and mochas. Given the slim margins in downloading music, I have my doubts that it’ll financially reinvent Starbucks. From my unsubstantiated research, I believe Starbucks has increased their “road warrior” business traveler customer base through wi-fi. My insider knowledge does know Starbucks benefited greatly from the wi-fi installations as it significantly upgraded their back-of-house technology. Free wi-fi is fast becoming a cost of doing business for coffeehouses and other "third place" community gathering spots. The learning curve to download music and burn to a CD with a home computer is not that steep.
Then again, making coffee at home is ultra-easy and Starbucks has seemingly made it easier, more convenient, and tastier for customers.
Label me old-school, but with each move Starbucks makes into the entertainment and technology area, the farther they deviate from coffee. I firmly believe a company “jumps the brand” when they promote their brand over the category. Instead, I see Starbucks offering entertainment options as an enhancement to the Starbucks experience and not as a reinvention of the Starbucks brand.
Shouldn’t Dunkin’ Donuts have a similar approach to their business as Starbucks and others have?

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Leiffer (Richard —), Christopher McDermott, Gina Colarelli O'Connor, Lois Peters, Mark Rice et Robert Veryzer. Although the Internet makes it seem as if you have a direct connection to the securities market, you don't.
I think that the failures of Enron and WorldCom and other companies are partially failures of investors to recognize companies that are selling for a thousand times nothing, but chances are they may be worth only that.
The tension between centrality, on the one hand, and competition, on the other, is probably the oldest of all market structure issues. Our markets have not achieved their great successes as a result of government fiat, but rather through efforts of competing interests working to meet the demands of investors and to fulfill the promises posed by advancing technology.
Today, the forces of competition, technology, and globalization have converged to spur innovation and to transform the way business is done in the securities industry. Our purpose, as we face these challenges, remains clear - fair and orderly markets that allow for efficient capital formation, while protecting the interests of investors.
I think we have got to start thinking about banding together in terms of interested groups.
One way for investors to protect themselves from a rapid change in the price of a stock is to use a limit order rather than a market order.
It is incumbent on us to facilitate the development of a market structure that best assures that these changes benefit the U.S. Once again, stock markets have been threatened with extinction for almost 75 years, and I have found that stock markets are harder to kill than roaches.
Promoting the interaction of orders remains one of the most difficult, but crucially important, challenges we face concerning our national market system. They don't advertise, they don't launch new products every day, but they are selling the way it makes you feel to purchase something there. Despairing of the thought of bringing a sentence to a close with something as demeaningly ordinary as a simple period, you shower readers with gratuitous, interminable and often weighty if not impossibly labyrinthine prose. I asked the audience how many were wearing a Live Strong bracelet from Lance Armstrong's charity or how many non-Bostonians in the room were rooting for the Red Sox to win the World Series.
I am not going to tell people where they should be spending their money, but I would advise that all marketing be authentic, and relate to reaching into people's hearts to let them know that you want to be part of their life.
I questioned the move with some HMOs (hot marketing opinions) here and here on Brand Autopsy. Even in Starbucks' home city of Seattle, few customers were listening to the music during recent visits to four stores with media bars. Starbucks sold oodles and oodles of Ray Charles’ GENIUS LOVES COMPANY album and now they have caused Antigone Rising’s debut album, FROM THE GROUND UP, to climb the charts. 12, Arthur shares actionable insights into how Starbucks gained market dominance through finding the best real estate locations.
And Dunkin' Donuts, the 54-year-old New England chain famous for its Boston Creme doughnuts and award-winning beans, thinks it's found the key to being a contender: speed and price.
Ultimately this results in consumers no longer being able to relate to what made the company remarkable in the first place. At Starbucks, the tribal knowledge Paul and I learned about how best to convey a marketing message was … Always say who you are, never who you are not.Given this tribal knowledge lesson learned, it appears AOL would be better served by telling subscribers and potential subscribers who they are and not who they ain’t.
But that’s coffee and Starbucks has been in the coffee business since 1971, not the music business. That they’re not in the coffee OR doughnut business, but in the business of serving their customers? There are only companies organized and operated to create and capitalize on growth opportunities.
People riding the stock market bubble of the 1990s, or the real estate bubble of the 2000s, or the government bond bubble of the 2010s might want to keep this quote in mind. If you’re marketing your firm to new customers, you better be able to provide them service when they do business with you. How Smart Companies Bypass Radical Innovation to Enter and Dominate New Markets (2005) Non traduit. If you're marketing your firm to new customers, you better be able to provide them service when they do business with you. They had decided to enjoy their jobs, they were enjoying their jobs and it was helping not just Starbucks, but it them, too.
Meaning lingers, albeit awash in a thick tide of metaphor and exposition that threatens to drown the writer's message. Digital music these days means MP3 file mixing and sharing, and that's not in the business model yet, says digital music analyst Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research Inc. It has taken a lot of real estate to open up 9,000+ Starbucks locations and it will take even more real estate to reach their stated goal of 30,000 global locations.
So this, then, is the new management team's new strategy: be the faster, cheaper, user-friendlier alternative to Starbucks -- the average Joe's average joe. 7) Chicago Tribune entitled Company perk; Can a roasting expert from Chicago give Krispy Kreme a coffee buzz?" (registration required) The focus of the story was about Krispy Kreme taking efforts to increase the quality of their coffee - potentially to compete with Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts.
Industries that assume themselves to be riding some automatic growth escalator invariably descend into stagnation.
Widely hailed as a champion of the individual investor, he has been criticized for not pushing for tougher accounting rules. Companies that are serving these emotional and human needs of the customers will really stand out amidst this cynical backdrop. It's not good enough to have a good ad, but everything you do helps complete the circle…the packaging, the community involvement, the service all help build that emotional connection. The history of every dead and dying “growth” industry shows a self-deceiving cycle of bountiful expansion and undetected decay. However, printed with refreshed and contemporary comments, the cup may become more than just a container.

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