Starbucks Brand Identity

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What are the main ways a high-street retailer represents their company to the public? Using one prominent store/retail chain that you are familiar with, describe how each aspect contributes to their brand and identity.

Founded in the streets of Seattle, Washington during the 1970’s. Howard Schultz certainly never anticipated creating a brand that has become the largest coffeehouse company in the world. Starbucks has dominated the world with its aromatic and fine quality coffee beans. It is not just a mere coffee house, it is a brand, a lifestyle, a culture and most evidently, it is an iconic figure, an identity. (Koehn 2002)

This essay shall introduce Starbucks as a renowned brand in contemporary society, its origins as a coffee roaster and the making of Starbucks. Then it will discuss how it is being represented to the public using branding techniques. Lastly it will discuss how the logo is constructed and the ways it has evolved over the years to create this identity as a brand.

Following from above, Starbucks was created by three University students who wanted to sell high quality coffee. Back then the company only sold roasted coffee and did not yet brew coffee to sell. In the year 1987, the original owners sold their company to Howard Schultz who merged his coffeehouse company, I1 Giornale with Starbucks. In the same year Starbucks grew rapidly and opened eleven outlets. Nine years after that, it had over 900 outlets worldwide. (Koehn 2002)

According to Koehn (2002) Starbucks is now an identity that commands broad awareness and has strong buyer loyalty. On the 2nd of August 1996, Starbucks opened its first store outside North America. Just like all its existing stores, Starbucks was opened in the heart and bustling streets of Japan – Tokyo. Over the following weeks, consumers of all ages filled the shop. Schultz then realised that the brand Starbucks had the same power in Tokyo than it had in New York and Seattle. It had taken on a life of its own. (Koehn 2002)

As Schultz believed, it was not due to mass advertising and promotion that formed this relationship between the consumers and Starbucks. Customer attachment was based on their experience in the store, their interaction with the person who made their coffee, the atmosphere of the shop and the sense of community. Schultz unlike other prominent brands believed that the way to a customer’s heart is to leave a personal touch. (Koehn 2002) “Our competitive advantage over the big coffee brands turned out to be our people. Supermarket sales are nonverbal and impersonal. But in a Starbucks store, you encounter real people who are excited about the coffee and enthusiastic about the brand.” (Berry 2000, p. 128)

The ultimate way that Starbucks presented itself to the public was by creating this emotional connection. This is known as emotional branding. Emotional branding is based on the essence that managers will integrate emotional appeals into the brand. These are used to spur emotionally charged relationships with their customers. Over the decades, Starbucks is able to depict its personality through interactions with its customers and forge a tight connection with them. This produces long term and loyal customers who will visit the shop more than often. (Holt 2004) As Schultz (1997) wrote in his book, “The most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. They are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not an advertisement campaign.”

The name and logo of Starbucks was created after discovering a classic nautical tale, Moby Dick, which is an American story that narrates the adventurous sailor, Ishmael. The first name that was initially proposed was Pequod, but the original founders rejected it. The name Starbucks then came about. This is the name of the first mate of Pequod but most importantly, Starbucks is a trader who adores coffee. The name as they believed...
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