How Our Favorite Brands Gained A Cult-Like Following (Part 2)

Branding Breakdown Series (Part 2: STARBUCKS)

Starbucks Honk Kong

Starbucks Honk Kong

I’m back for Part 2 of my #brandingbreakdown series. In Part 1, I discussed Chick Fil A and the reasons I believe they’ve been able to grow a tribe of loyal fans.

I received a lot of positive responses from that post and I hope it helped small business owners and entrepreneurs think of ways they can incorporate similar strategies into their own business/brand. This series stems from my post called “Are You Striking The Right Tone For Your Brand?” where I featured a downloadable PDF to walk you through an exercise to develop your brand’s tone and voice.

This week I’m back for Part 2 of my #brandingbreakdown series to talk about another company that has a following like no other. Yes, you guessed it (and it’s in the title).

It’s Starbucks!

The name alone makes me want to drift off into a euphoric coffee-induced state. Too much? I don’t mean to wax poetic but a good cup of Starbucks allows me to function on 75% mode with little to no sleep, so let’s get into it.

Here are the reasons I believe Starbucks has grown into the 800 lb. gorilla with the cult-like following we see today.

1).     Customer Service – Yes, customer service comes in at #1 again this week but it is so important. It’s one of the main reasons why Starbucks continues to go gangbusters. I’ve always had the most pleasurable experiences at the busy coffee shops. I’m not sure if it’s the good karma that place exudes or the coffee beans that everyone is all hyped up on but it’s always a great experience.

Customer service is key to people buying your product no matter what realm the business operates in. No, let me rephrase that…

Customer service is vital to customers championing your brand. There’s a big difference. Click To Tweet 

Starbucks has put their stamp on their service with one simple question: asking your name. This is one element that makes them stand out. Sure the name is misspelled or flat out wrong 99.97% of the time but so what…it’s funny and social media share-worthy. It also makes the service seem more personal assuming they happen to remember it. Many restaurants ask your name but, for some reason, it stands out when Starbucks does it.

If you follow Starbucks on Facebook, you will notice how interactive they are by responding to nearly every question or request. They are dedicated to not leaving their customers hanging. Many small businesses should take note of this.

And although the company is no stranger to controversy like the infamous “Red Cup Gate 2015”, they take it in stride with class.

Focusing on user experience or customer service as a principle will never steer you wrong. Add an amazing product and you become unstoppable.

2). The Cool Factor – Everything from the music they play (and sell) to their Instagram feed is beautifully curated, youthful and hip. They are in touch with their customers and on the pulse of what’s happening and it shows. People of all ages and demographics stand behind the Starbucks brand.

The coffee shops are a playground for movers and shakers. Freelancers and creative types go there to work and vibe off of the energy and meet like-minded types. I’ve heard it many times, “deals have been made at Starbucks”.

If I may be blunt for a moment, as a freelancer who now works at Starbucks often, what I love most is that they don’t interrupt the flow of the patrons. The coffee shop is a peaceful haven to work even with the constant dribble of noise. I appreciate that.

3) They are everywhere – Unlike Chick Fil A who chooses to be the turtle, Seattle based Starbucks is most certainly the hare.

The company was founded in 1971 and now operates 23,391 locations worldwide. Yes, let that number sink in for a moment.

You will find Starbucks in airports, Target stores, on college campuses and several at Disneyland. There are no shortage of locations to grab a cup of morning Joe or Chai tea. While it works wonderfully for them, it’s not a strategy that every company can pull off.

The company has managed to make coffee drinking cool, making it somewhat of a status brand. It’s not your grandpa’s coffee though it might be his favorite place to buy it. You may hear “I have to get my Starbucks” since the brand has become synonymous with the beverage and the logo is identifiable to nearly everyone.

4) Employee Investment – I can’t talk about Starbucks without speaking of their contributions to their employees. I believe it’s important that a company as big as Starbucks give back to those who give so much of their time + energy to move the brand along.

One of the biggest benefits Starbucks offers is paying tuition for part-time and full-time employees.They most recently teamed up with Arizona State University to pay either partial or full tuition for online programs. Read more about that here. The best thing about it is that there are no strings attached (that I know of). The employees don’t have to continue to work for Starbucks after graduation. Did I mention you get free coffee helping you to study? Win/Win.

That’s a huge financial investment to make in your employee’s future considering the cost of tuition. Starbucks said “throw that degree in the bag. We got this” and they defintely can afford it at the rate they’ve grown. As I mentioned in Part 1, customer service is directly tied back to employee satisfaction.

I’m a fan of the Starbucks brand as you can tell but I realize that no company is perfect and none of us knows what happens in the “kitchen” (aka: behind the scenes) but they have a huge following so they must be doing something right.

I have many friends and associates who feel even stronger about the company than I do. We all have reasons why we think Starbucks is killing it and those were mine. I hope you enjoyed this post!

Are you a Starbucks loyalist? If so, why do you think they are as popular as they are?

If you like these posts, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter here or in the sidebar.

I’ll be highlighting my final brand next week. No hints this time! If you have any suggestions or guesses drop it below.






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