Opinions about branding by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Remembering the Starbucks That Was

The logo decision, the idea of going global and corporate and bland, is done. I'm not going to waste any more time on this...Let them do what they want.

Before I let this go, though, I'd like to share some things that come to mind when I reflect on what is so sad about this transition. If I had to sum it up, mainly what I see is that Starbucks to me represents the ultimate human brand, and now they just seem completely cold and greedy.

So here goes.

Here's a bunch of memories, of watching people interact:

* A group of elderly men sitting on the barstools, huddled together, talking. Something about how Starbucks is more fun than religious services. Which their wives prefer.

* A couple dressed in outrageously amazing Greenwich Village nightclub wear--in the suburbs among the hockey moms at 9 o'clock on a weekend morning.

* A little boy sipping his Kids' Hot Chocolate, a total "I'm-in-heaven" look on his face.

I've been well-treated by Starbucks' baristas:

* Advised that the new Frappuccino was susceptible to tasting bad if it was mixed wrong. Took back a half-drunk drink and made a new one.

* Not advised, despite all caloric logic to the contrary, to refrain from ordering whipped cream and chocolate syrup with my Java Chip Lite Frappuccino.

* Requested breakfast sandwich not on the menu (bagel/egg/cheese), received same, didn't have to pay extra even though the barista threw away an English muffin. All handled on a busy Sunday morning AND was only charged for one sandwich.

It hasn't always been THAT nice:

* Had a coffee slammed down on the counter in front of me after waiting 10 minutes...and told I shouldn't be reading the house copy of the New York Times unless I bought it!

Oh well.

Assorted good memories:

* Vacation days sitting there doing nothing but reading

* Charging up the laptop and blogging

* Studying the menu board and picking out interesting new coffees

* Standing in line for a nice hot cup before work

* Delighting my mom with a case of Frappes. Seeing the huge smile pour across her face.

I have to say, I will miss this brand when it goes so fully corporate, global, and bland in the name of global expansion. It represented something to me that was very real and down-home. It was one of those brands I identified with and took to heart. Their entire philosophy of how to treat employees and customers alike resonated with me in every way. And they turned me into a coffee fanatic.

Nothing is permanent, all good things must come to an end, and so it goes.

Target's decision to do exactly the same thing - get rid of the name, keep the icon - is just fine with me. In fact I know it's a good thing. But Starbucks I will miss.