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Feature Image Photo Credit: Starbuck’s News Room, ©2017 Starbucks Corporation

Well, we ushered in another holiday season, and now that season is gone. To me, this year seemed a little different than the previous year. This year, I saw more people decorating their homes so festively as opposed to the previous year; perhaps due to our recovering economy? Whatever the reason, it was a pretty awesome holiday season for me.

I remembered that it was a really cold day so I had to go to my favorite place—my third place. I grabbed the handle of the door, opened it, and walked right into our neighborhood Starbucks store, When I opened that door, there was a warmth, an energy, and an excitement for the holidays as the store was filled with people talking and connecting with each other. The excitement was combined with the smells and the sounds of Christmas music playing loudly in the background.

As I watched the baristas working fiercely to accommodate their guests, I thought about the insane controversy of the red cups. Yep, I’m going back to 2015 with the Starbuck’s holiday red cup controversy. Some people complained about those darn red cups which had an ombré design effect, which to them, didn’t look “Christmasy” enough. Honestly [sigh]. Starbucks wanted to create a quieter cup so that people could tell their own stories on their cups. Also they wanted to create a quiet feel in ushering the holiday season. Always remember this—No matter how noble a brand’s intentions may be, some people may take that brand’s intentions the wrong way. When there’s controversy, it’s important for a brand to respond swiftly to protect its brand image and that’s what Starbucks did.

“No matter how noble and sincere a brand’s intentions may be, some people may take that brand’s intentions the wrong way.”

This year, whether it was intentional or not, Starbucks did something that was utterly brilliant to further imprint their brand’s core beliefs into the minds and hearts of their consumers. This year, those darn red cups were designed by guess who? None other than Starbucks’s customers. Yes, that’s right. This mega brand brought their customers in on the development of their holiday packaging to their product as well as on some of the products themselves. To keep their target customers engaged, Starbucks leveraged another way for people to tell their stories. The company used social media and asked people to share their designs on Instagram. Thirteen artists were chosen from all over the world. Starbucks wasn’t just talking about how awesome their brand is, but rather showed it as they used their brand positioning and actually co-created with their customers. The customers designed and Starbucks manufactured. This is one of the most valuable things that a brand can do which is to include their customers in the development of their products or services. After all, business is about the customers and what they want or need. It’s not just about the business or brand. Starbucks is pretty well known for listening to ideas that their customers have when it comes to improving their products or services. Now this strategy isn’t new, but Starbucks was smart enough to use it and make it work for their brand. When a brand invites its customers in to co-create with them, it makes the customers feel like they’re a part of something bigger and greater, imparting a sense of belonging to a specific community (in this instance, coffee and, of course we can’t forget, tea lovers). With that being said, the result is brand loyalty, because customers are being heard and acknowledged.

It is imperative that businesses deeply know and understand their brands because it allows them to make a stronger impact in the hearts and minds of their customers. It also positions them in the marketplace in a league of their own.

Do you know what the return on investment of knowing and understanding your brand is? I only listed eight things, but there are many more.

  • Clarity in your vision and present and future strategy for your business
  • Clarity in your marketing efforts
  • Clarity in your business’s operations
  • The ability to position your brand in the marketplace effectively and genuinely in accordance with your business’s core beliefs
  • The ability to create relevancy in the marketplace
  • The ability to have personality as well as identity
  • The ability to create a consistent perception of your brand
  • An effective connection to your customers, employees, and your business’s shareholders. The result of these connections (especially to your customers) is equal brand evangelism, trust, and loyalty which then translates into more money in the bank (because you will effectively deliver your message in a unique way as you meet the wants and needs of your customers. Consequently, they will prefer your brand over others that offer the same or similar services)

Today, brands need to show rather than tell who they are, and Starbucks has demonstrated this successfully this past holiday season as well as in the previous seasons. Because they realize the power of knowing and understanding who they are, they are able to leverage their brand creating a stronger impact in the marketplace.

Do you have enough clarity in your brand that you’re able to effectively position and leverage it in the marketplace? If not, click the button below to contact us.

Marcia McCray

Author Marcia McCray

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