Posts Tagged 'Brand'

Can Starbucks Recover?

It is indeed ironic that Starbucks finds itself the target of complaints about racism, insensitivity and customer service. For much of its history, Starbucks has been a standard-bearer of progressive corporate leadership on a variety of social, cultural, racial, customer service and corporate social responsibility issues—which only goes to point out that no company can afford to overlook the quality of its ongoing relationships with its customers and, in addition, the power of social media to generate a communications crisis within minutes.

First, let us admit that we’ve previously lauded Starbucks on several occasions for forward-thinking, courageous, and even bold stands on a variety of quality-of-life and social justice issues. From the much-despised Race Together initiative to progressive stands on employee relations, equity in leadership and pay, and establishing and setting a high bar on a range of everyday communications issues (digital and social media marketing), we like Starbucks and think they’ve set an example worthy of many corporations taking note. Nonetheless, we’ve also recently become disenchanted with some changes ushered in by Starbucks, which begin to raise the question we asked in some of our earlier social media posts re: Philadelphia, and even before: Has success spoiled Starbucks and caused it to take too much for granted, when it comes to its customers? And will one day of racial sensitivity and customer service training (designated corporate-wide for May 29) change that scenario? Bottom line, apparently had Starbucks started to believe—like too many banks and investment firms before it—that it’s too big to fail, or even immune to a stumble. The past few weeks should’ve changed that picture substantially.

So where has Starbucks gone wrong? Like many entrepreneurs, we consider ourselves aficionados on this, as we spend a lot of time in Starbucks or running to Starbucks while conducting business. Here are a few problems we’ve noted of late. …

Disappearing Chairs

As we’ve noted in one of our social posts, in the past months, chairs have been noticeably missing from Starbucks changing business model. One of the things that has made Starbucks not only convenient, but indispensable in our informal, shared-workspace economy, is that Starbucks is, generally, an inviting place to conduct business. It’s convenient (practically omnipresent), more invigorating than the average office, and a good place to mix informal mingling with business function. I’ve seen everything from small-group meetings, to tele-conferencing, to actual business social activities held in Starbucks sites.

Losing A Neighborhood Gathering Place

As one journalist recently described it: “Starbucks, a brand that has positioned itself in our national consciousness as not just a restaurant chain or retail operation, but as a ‘third place’ meetup spot for the community.” So, this sudden removal of seats from a growing number of stores (across the Chicago area at least), is something of a slap in the face to loyal customers—business and social users alike–who Starbucks encourages to make repeat visits.

So, perhaps the issue facing Starbucks in the Philadelphia case is about more than race, although its apparent that ugly racism may have strongly influenced the situation. Could it be that Starbucks was already losing touch with the people and the community values that made it a global juggernaut?

Perhaps it was too much to ask that a major corporation combine all the amenities of the local neighborhood café, bookstore, community center and local hotspot. But Starbucks offered an implicit promise to be all that, giving it a special local appeal. And it was diverse, in staff and clientele. But those mom and pop coffee shops and cafes that many of us abandoned for Starbucks are probably now muttering a major “I told you so!”

Can Starbucks pull it all together quickly to stay of damage caused by that shop in Philadelphia and other bad moves. Time will tell. The company has at least announced it’s closing the shop for one day in May to talk about race, and we hope many other customer service issues. Many of us will wait and see, before we make our way to a final exit.

Leveraging Your Experience to Create A Personal Brand

What makes a brand legendary? A superior product? Innovative operations? Marketing creativity? Is it all of the above, or any one of them? These became burning questions in our minds when we recently read that Starbucks—you know, the famous coffee-comfort company with 20,000 stores worldwide—is considering leveraging its intellectual property as yet another revenue stream for the prosperous company. The company won’t be abandoning its roots in coffee; it’s simply planning to leverage what they’ve learned about marketing through mobile apps, mobile payments, and loyalty cards  via the coffee business,  to perhaps benefit other companies. So what can we learn from this for our own branding efforts.

First thought that comes to mind, recall Oprah Winfrey’s famous dictum, paraphrased here: These are the things I know for sure …

The seed of your personal brand lies in the amalgam of stories and experience you’ve gleaned and all the lessons you’ve learned from previous activity. Packaged cleverly and with authenticity, these represent the seeds of your brand , and they have value. To get started:

Identify Your Brand

Ask yourself, what do I know for sure? What do I know that’s been affirmed by experience? What’s the depth of that experience? How is it different from the experience offered up by others? Working through these elemental questions will establish the foundation for your brand?

Position Your Brand

Once you’ve identified the essential elements of your brand—in PR, for example, you’ll want to look for a distinct niche. Do you work primarily in one industry? Healthcare, telecommunications, arts and entertainment, financial? Do you specialize in a specific area, or sub-specialty of public relations—media relations, public affairs, event planning, media production? Or, is your overall breadth of knowledge, contacts, experience so valuable that it distinguishes you from the rest of the field. If so, perhaps that’s your differentiation. Whatever the difference may be, you’ll need to spell it out for others in some comprehensible way. Common methods for distinguishing these brand attributes can be vision, core values, networks and contacts, access to  key targets, etc. At the end of the positioning phase, though, you’ll need to package your brand, and promote it.

Package Your Brand

Just as a company does, after you’ve identified the elements of your brand and established a clear differentiation from others offering similar services or attributes, a critical next step is the packaging of the brand: the perceivable cues that will make your brand identifiable and, hopefully, broaden its appeal. These include visual elements, including logo, as well as tagline, nomenclature associated with your identity. Choose carefully. These will become the tangible representations of your brand.

Promote Your Brand

There’s no better and more accessible form of promotion today than social media. Nearly everyone can use it. But to promote effectively, you have to understand the platforms and tools. So if you’re not already on social, get started. The immediacy of the feedback will be both revealing and rewarding. And to use social media effectively, you’ve got to know a little about SEO, keywords, and optimizing your copy for search. Remember, also, though that in the real world, your personal brand goes with you always. Keep in mind that what you say, do, how you say it, and how you present yourself all work towards [or against] building a powerful personal brand. No one knows your brand better than you, but here’s our final advice on promotion: keep it authentic.

Refining Your Brand

Endless iterations of sharpening, improving, repackaging and reassessing your brand. Reviewing over and over the same questions outlined above, tweaking, challenging, modifying and even forgoing certain aspects of your brand that may need to be adjusted over time. Acquiring news skills, moving .

What Is Your Personal Brand?

None of this is simple or easy. If it were, everyone would have a viable personal brand. What makes a brand marketable is the endless interplay of knowledge, experience, positioning, packaging, promotion, and redefinition that is the alchemy of life. For our closing note, we highly recommend this article of 38 tips from top bloggers. To our way of thinking, these bloggers pretty much cover the waterfront in terms of good advice on building a personal brand [through blogs]. If you’re looking for a quick primer on personal branding [and blogging], it’s right here:

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