starbucks went changin’ — best blogpost revisited

Congratulations to Jon Galloway, the winner winnerof the “vote for the best blogpost” celebration I held to mark the 1-year anniversary of my blog!

Jon voted for “don’t go changin’ to try to please them,” a post I had written about why brands shouldn’t go chasing after customers.  Jon explains his choice:

This really resonated with me since I’ve seen this mistake made so many times from a product development point of view:  “let’s add a splash of social media, a dash of what’s trendy this week, and a little bit of what the boss read about in an airplane magazine last week…”  Eventually you end up with an incoherent mix that doesn’t make anyone happy. Your post really summed this up well – rather than trying to be all coffee shops to all people, it makes more sense for Starbucks to focus on the core of their brand, and then to make sure that they always do that well.

To explain, I wrote in the post that if Starbucks were to heed the advice of a recent Harvard Business Review article, they would try to steal some of my visits to a local independent coffee shop, Mystic Mocha— but it would be a fruitless and senseless effort.  Fruitless because I like visiting Mystic Mocha regularly and don’t want to stop going there; senseless because Mystic Mocha meets a very different need from Starbucks and I value each brand for fulfilling each unique need.  Instead, I advised, Starbucks — and all companies really — should focus on the elements that are at the core of their brand and invest in excelling at those.

Interestingly, in the time that has transpired since when the post was published back in early April, Starbucks has indeed gone “changin’ to try to please them.”  The company’s debut of 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea features equipment, product, and design changes to give the stores a locally-themed and less uniform look.  By serving wine and beer and to hosting live music and poetry readings, the new stores are intended to attract an older, more upscale, and perhaps more elite customer.  The change has been critiqued and criticized by many, including me.

In my mind, the reasons why this latest move from Starbucks’ doesn’t make sense all boil down to the thinking I shared in the post our winner Jon selected.  So, thanks, Jon, for drawing our attention back to the post, and congratulations once again.

Jon is Senior Software Engineer with Vertigo Software.  He works with cutting edge technologies, like Silverlight and Microsoft‘s latest web frameworks.   Check out Jon’s blog and podcast for a full immersion into the world of programming.

Jon’s favorite brand is StackOverflow (a programming Q&A website) — because, he says, “they’ve got such a clear focus on making their customers successful.  I think they do a great job of saying who they are and what they’re trying to do, then really delivering.”  Sounds like my kind of brand (if I were a programmer!)

Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest.  (The winning vote was selected at random; the post that actually garnered the most votes was “brand inspiration” — more on this to come.)  I’ve enjoyed hearing from all of you — I so value your readership and our connection.

I’m looking forward to a great Year 2!

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