It’s been a while since I wrote about brand reputation optimization, a term I coined last year. However, Starbucks has recently been facing a storm of controversy and I believe how it is handling the adversity is well worth paying attention to.
Not too long ago as I sat in a Starbucks already annoyed at having to pay $9.95 for wifi, a barista awkwardly approached me â€“ clearly something was up.
â€œSir, all Starbucks will be closing early tonight. We are having a major training session among all locations worldwide.â€�
The events of that â€˜training session’ have been chronicled on many blogs. While the actual changes that were instituted such as clear espresso shot glasses and no more breakfast sandwiches may or may not actually be effective, it was in principle a great statement to make.Â Starbucks needed to bring its focus back to making great coffee.
Starbucks has one of the great brands of our modern time and yet the company has recently faced a number of set backs, including a catering stock price. The entry of MacDonald’s into the premium coffee sector has pressured the Starbucks brand. Likewise, failures at overseas locations have made many question whether Starbucks is capable of international success. Now, Starbucks is looking to optimize its brand and gain as much favorable exposure as possible. It all comes back to brand and community.
One of the more notable changes was last week’s launch of a new social media website called My Starbucks Idea. The concept is to allow customers to submit suggestions for how to improve the experience of being a Starbucks customer.
In my opinion, thus far Starbucks has pursued a solid brand optimization strategy:
Sending a Message. Closing stores early ensured great PR and was done without pissing anyone off since their intentions was clearly articulated
Back to Basics. Bringing back Howard Schultz, the founder and original CEO, was a great move. Also building a campaign focused on the â€˜perfect cup of coffee’ as opposed to â€˜iTunes’ was the right message to be sending.
Starting a Dialogue. My Starbuck Idea is an attempt at creating discourse between management and customers. The concept is a great one and more companies should adopt similar practices. It’s also impressive that Starbucks is taking the website seriously, spending big dollars to prime placements such as on the front page of the New York Times Online.
While Starbucks has initially made the right moves they are missing two valuable steps.Â First, they must figure out how to Implement and Respond to Feedback – the flood of incoming is proving to be an issue. Additionally, Starbucks previous failures in online discussions need to be rectified before it can regain the public’s trust. Starbucks must Acknowledge and Respond to Past Mistakes, to help lend credence to its new efforts.
Image from the My Starbucks Idea Advertising Campaign