Fine Tuning the Brand: Starbucks Part 2
Well here's an example. Practical example of how that work. So here's a photo, so you know how we sell, Starbucks sells these now, these sandwiches. So this is what, back when we were first going to launch the sandwiches, so we took a beautiful photo of the breakfast sandwich, and then we put it into this graphic bed, and as you see it has some handcrafted elements, has this little strip here, you know, those little mottled yellow, so it looks like it's some handcrafted elements. "One wakes you up one fills you up." But we looked at it and we go, that doesn't feel right, it doesn't feel right, and you know what, another filter is this, could you see this on, in any other, in your competitors? Could you see this in their stores? Could you see them doing the same thing? Cuz that means it's not unique for you. If they can do it, if they're doing it, or if they would do it, if that would feel like, let's just say McDonalds, pick McDonalds for instance, could you see that at McDonalds? Sure...
, that look like it could fit in McDonalds right? So that's why it didn't feel right. And you know what? We did this, our creative team there, we created this, and we were going to present it and we stopped ourselves. We said, no, it doesn't feel right. We can't, I think we delayed the meeting, so we went back, what does that copy say, "goes great with morning." So we looked at those, those five filters, and you know what? It doesn't hit all the filters. Let's see why. So QSR stands for quick serve restaurant, McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, Starbucks falls inside that as well. So "one wakes you up, one fills you up" that sounds like a quick serve restaurant, you know, kind of thing. The photo. Yeah, it's a beautiful photo, but maybe too beautiful, you know, you could see that in a magazine, you kind of worship it as opposed to eat it. And the background, yeah but, it doesn't feel distinctive. So I think this was one of our designers, who is also a fine artist, I think it was Sandy Nelson, and she, this is on her desk, a coffee cup that had paint in it. And so what she did, like overnight, I remember, she painted it, she painted using her oils or her acrylics, she painted the breakfast sandwich. So, and then we have, as you see we have this handpainted border, and you know, the whole thing is painted. And then we have copy, "Morning Ritual." So let's see why that feels right, so we're going from what you see on the left, to what you see on the right. It feels better, but can you tell me why it feels better? So that's, you know that's the challenge and the trick. So, so if you're in a conference room with your clients, your fellow workers, whatever it is, let's go through it, let's see, morning ritual. Human and sophisticated. It evokes emotion, imagery, all that. Handcrafted background, yeah it's handcrafted, it's painted. So handcrafted. The artistic, enduring product depiction, I mean, it's not of the moment, cuz it was, you know it's enduring, anything that's done as a piece of art you know, you think of it as an enduring element. So, checks off all the boxes: handcrafted, artistic sophisticated, human, enduring. Yeah, that's it, that feels right. So, those touch points have been very valuable as we continue to work with other clients and it's easy for everyone to understand as well, cuz it's, that brand is a person, and they're tangible, they're tangible elements. There not, like, there are different definitions. If you pick three people, you all three would have different definitions of what sophisticated is. But if you put it together with the four other filters, within that brand, then you get it. So here's another example. So here's some elements, you see the handwritten copy, and even the way that it talks as well. It says "I custom build each latte by hand, "Two shots, light foam, extra cinnamon? "How you like it, that's exactly how I make it." So that's the barista talking, to you. You have a handpainted, illustrated, coffee cup, and then you have a farmer, and then you have this handcrafted border. So those are your elements, and then assembling them in an artful, pleasing way, and there you go. So these are, you know, easy ways to depict that. Here's a, this is a, Black Apron packaging, so Black Apron Coffee was elevated, it's you know that coffee farm that grows the best coffee, and it's only the small batch, and so, you know it costs more, and it's very giftable and all that. So we, so we wanted to create something that was very special, and also for cost purposes, it would cost more to create, but we wanted to create something that was elevated, but was also a reusable, meaning you could use that same outer carton for multiple coffees. So, the concept was that we created the outer packaging and then inside, because it was visible through that window, you could create, you have different kinds of coffee with different kinds of bags, you know in different colors. So that you can do seasonal and change out and all that. And what was special about this, and why I love this example, is because it's very story driven. We had four of them, and each one of them was a work of art, created by a New York artist, his name was Lane Twitchell, he's an amazing artist. He's a cut paper artist. He takes a piece of paper, I have a bunch of his art, cuz it's so amazing. Takes a huge piece of paper, folds it up, you know like snowflakes and snowman, and stuff, paper dolls, folds it up, complicated cuts, unfolds it, so this is all one cut. So it's amazing what he does. So each one of those had a stage of the coffee growing process from the grower and the roaster, and all that. So each one told a story in and of itself, and then inside, you opened it up, do I have that, yeah. Inside, you open it up and on the panel it has a story about, about the Black Apron Coffee. And then it had a little love note that told where the coffee came from, from about the farmer and all that. So very beautiful, giftable, and also made smart sense, because we had that band, that Rwanda Blue Bourbon, you see, that is a removable band that you can put another one on, and you can also replace the coffee bag inside. So we could reuse, use for you know, a couple years the outer packaging. So everything that we did we redesigned to reflect those five filters. So you look at the coffee bags here, has a little story, has illustrations, kept it really simple, only what you needed. And that's one thing that really worked on is we called it no decoration. So meaning, anything that you say, anything you show, has to have a purpose for being there. Well it looks pretty. That's not a good reason. It has to have a reason for being there, so you have to very disciplined, and you find that a lot with, especially designers that might be starting out, you know it's just like wow, it looks cool, you know it's like, yeah, but what does it have to do with the brand? What is it trying to tell me? How does it further the story? How does it tell that story? So you have to be disciplined about it. So even if you, so bringing that to life, in this is a little video, bringing to life on video. Let's see how, in moving images. (piano music)
Dulce de leche, experience the passion of latin America.
Good huh, so you can see how that handcrafted artistic, sophisticated and enduring, it can all apply to, this as well. And this is a, you know, it was at Starbucks that I really realized what I did for a living. You know I did that Nike, Lego, but it took me that long before I really realized it, and it's kind of that thing about your mom or dad saying what is it you do for a living, so it's kind of hard to explain sometimes when you're a creative or in our industry and so, I was finally able to answer my dad's question, and when he asked me that. So it came at the end of a long day at Starbucks, and I was, I was walking up and down the halls, going to meetings, it was kind of like a mov-- I felt like there was a camera on me cuz I was walking down the hall, and people were showing me stuff, and I would be approving it as we walk along, and I, I go in a conference room, and I look at stuff, and I change that, do that, do that, and then I go to another meeting. And at the end it was like, wow, that was a really fun day, you know, exhausting, fun day, and you know what? I'm really good at this? And then I was like embarrassed that I said that, because that sounds so egotistical, and not humble, then I thought, wait, wait a minute, it's okay, you can revel in this for a second because just think of anyone who does their profession for a long time, anything from a plumber to an accountant, to a lawyer, you get really good at it, because you do it over and over and over. Some of them are little tricks that you learn along the way, some of them are routine things, but you have lots of experience that you can build on and you can create things from that experience, so that was that moment for me. When I though, awe yeah, I'm really good at this and I really enjoy it. I really enjoy it cuz I'm really good at it, and I'm good at it because I've been doing it for many many years. And it was that moment, the realizing what I did for a living, was and this sounds silly but, you know I create emotional connections between consumers and brands. It's that simple. I'd never put it in those words before for myself. Cuz everything I did during that day was about adjusting things or approving things that made emotional connections between consumers and brands, and that's the ephemeral part of brands. There's physical things, you know, the device that you hold, the thing that you drink, the thing that you eat, the thing that you drive in. But the ephemeral are why you care about that. It's the little things. I have this, you know, back to Monkey's Eyebrow and Possum Trot, so you know we had a court square with two clothing stores there, so not a lot of options there to, as far as clothes and shoes and things. So you know, I moved to New York and it was like ooh, wow, look at all these retail options. So I will admit that I buy a lot of clothes and shoes and, I'm just making up for lost time, okay? So, so there's the physical thing, and then there's the way that you look. So I'm just gonna show a fun little thing, and this has been some years ago, I left Starbucks in 2008, and so, the packaging has been designed, redesigned a couple times since then, to keep it fresh and so I thought this was a fun little, just pull up a little PDF. This is a fun little case study of, you know, all the options that you go through you know, you don't get it the first time. So this was the packaging at the time. So you think of what we're trying to do is that simple story. So you look at this and there's a lot going on there. I mean, you can find the logo, it's on there somewhere but it's kinda hidden, there's a lot of swirlies and brown and greens and illustrations and things like that. It was great, you know the stories, you remember the artwork and things. So what we did is, we had a team, an amazing team of designers there, and we just like, okay, let's go, let's try to find something that fit within those, you know, that fit within, you know, those five filters. So we just started designing a bunch of packaging and we're working in partnership with our clients there, and this had to go through pretty rigorous testing. So we did lots of options, lots of boards, lots of testing groups, and you know we had the stamps at the time, we did different variations on that, and you know we broke things apart we put them back together, and you know tried to find something that was, you know, some of them were closer in, you know, some of them were further out. It was a fun design exercise, but after awhile it was you know, it was getting down to okay, we gotta narrow in on something here. Time is a ticking, so here's some of the final options. And then we got to this point that's coming up here in a second, there's a lotta things here, huh? So it's about right here. So we're getting close, okay, we've got green of Starbucks, so the bag is kinda green, we made the stamps bigger and all that. And then we got to right, we got to final testing and we got to right here we go. Done. We're all done, we went through testing and all that. But you know what? We looked at it, and it was kinda like the breakfast sandwich, it's like, it just doesn't feel right, you know, it's not, it's not that big of a change, and it's also think of the environment that you buy this in. You think of a retail store, like a Starbucks store, and it's a fairly, it's not a bright environment, it's fairly dark in there, and then you think of grocery, you know, grocery is a very busy area there, and lots of competitors and everything, you know. So think of that on the shelf, it'll look like a green, you know, a little cylinder, on there. So you know, even though, we got kinda carried away with all the options, but I think we really forgot, you know, who we were designing for and what the story was. And so, we actually started over, and we actually said goodbye to the focus groups, and we decided just to do what's right for the brand. And we didn't go to focus groups on this one. And we went back to the cup, so the cup is fairly well known (laughs). So it's very iconic, and it's so simple, I mean, it's white with a green logo on it. So we went back to the cup, and then we also went back this is the first scoop bag at the original Pike Place store, so this is what they, before they sold drinks, you know, when they used to just scoop it in the bags, freshly roasted coffee, they put it in these paper scoop bags. We loved the simplicity of that, the simpleness of that. Honesty of that. So we started over and we started doing some bags that were simpler. It had more of a story, even though they were simpler you know, they told about the coffee origins and in not so heavy handed of a way. So we did a number of explorations and we ended up with something this simple, and then we decided, we really love that one, but the company wasn't quite ready to go that simple, they needed a little more. And so we brought back the stamp and then the color a little bit, and this is where we ended up. So, these are final packaging. So, what we had, if you look at this, it's pretty amazing what happens with this. We had more information on these bags than we had on the previous bags, you remember the previous ones? Let me see, do I have the, on the next slide? Uh, no, oh that's a PDF, that's why it's not working. So this is the final bag, and we had more information than we did on the previous bags, the swirly ones, and we had the logo that's very prominent. The band there speaks to the origin, where it comes from, you know, Central America, or Africa, etc. So that, it was color coded there, the stamps now, are heroes. The stamps are favorites of our customers, and it's like collecting these little passports. And then we also had copy on the side, and then of course on the back. So both instructional and emotive copy as well. So much simpler, and now think of the environment. Think about where you buy this. You buy this in a grocery store. White, there's not many white coffee bags, so it really stood out. Also you're able to find it, remember what I said about finding it quickly. Needs to tell me, what I'm, so if you're looking really quick and you wanna find, find something that's of a particular origin, or decaffeinated, you need to quickly be able to decipher and find that. So it was much cleaner. And then you think of the Starbucks environments, they stood out really nicely inside the store. And we consistently, since then, all the clients that I've worked with, we always do that where we you know, we'll take our product, the mock-ups, and we'll put them in a real environment. There's a big difference between putting them in a conference room and then putting them in the real environment, where you can see it under the fluorescent lights, or whatever it is. It speaks to you, all right, I'll go back to the PDF here, or the keynote. So, you remember the brand book, well, we thought that one more level would be good. So what was happening, and this happens sometimes in bigger companies where there's lots of different departments, even creatively there's lots of different departments. There's store design and then there's, you know there's the promotions, and etc. So what we did, this was a little bit back to that Nike entertainment, it's like, so I kind of observed all that going on, so there's different groups, they all have their own trend consultants, so they're all paying for these things separately, so I said hey, I'm gonna do something. I'm gonna get, let's you, you, you, you, and you, let's get together, we're gonna do something really cool. And so, I got a representative from each of the different disciplines, from store design, and marketing, and all those things. So that everyone, so that serves lots of purposes. There's involvement from everyone. There's a buy-in from the beginning from everyone. And I'll show some other examples of that, but also you're getting that group think as well. You're getting experience from all these different groups. So the purpose was, we're gonna create one story that we're gonna use for the whole year. So the brand books are evergreen, as evergreen as brands get, you know, three to five years. Then you gotta retool it and, you know, the markets change, you got 500 competitors now and you gotta, you used to dominate the market, but now you have to rethink. You always base it on your core, but you hafta redo it. But a brand platform, or a story platform, you could do this for a camp-- for a season, it could be, this is what we're gonna do for holiday, it could be for the year, it's something that's gonna unite everything for the year. So across all of our communication channels PR, advertising, retail, all those different things. So that's what this was. We got together and go, hey, let's do this, and you know what we did? We could show, we're gonna show them how you could save money even, by doing this. So we even had an Excel spreadsheet that went along with this, showing all the money that you would save if we did something like this. So we created kind of a mock-up of it, what it was, and then, they bought off on it, because it's a, yeah, why wouldn't we do this. It wasn't easy to do, though, cuz there was multiple agencies working on it, and in house, you know, on the client's side, inside the corporation, so you had to get everyone aligned. So we had to get buy-off from the top and then we had to push it on down from there. So what this was is, we had a creative platform that we drove across the whole year, and it was "Life happens over coffee." So that's pretty emotive, and what we did is, we did we're gonna do it across the seasons, winter, spring, summer, fall, and holiday. And then even all our meetings, our annual meetings, shareholder meetings, all those things. It's gonna touch all of those things. And so, for each of the seasons, we had, a description, we had the five senses, so you could feel what it would be like, we had both graphic elements, colors, materials, cuz it was also for store designers, 3-D stuff as well, as you're creating those, and then you can see with all those, you know, is some of the stuff you know that was created from it. So, what was great about it was, it was, it gave everyone some guardrails, or some tools to work with instead of saying, this is what happened before, and very common is okay, you know we got spring promotion coming up, you know, what'd we do last year? Yeah, what'd we do the last three years? What should we do this year? I don't know, hmm, so you start throwing stuff on the wall, but if you have some guardrails, meaning here's some things we wanna get across as a brand overall, so life happens over coffee. So we had words that accompanied that, you know here's the concept, but also you need to have some elements, so we had, you have to use chalkboard somewhere in your communication. So it could be done in very different ways, but it has to have a chalkboard element. So we had like, a small handful of things that you were required to use, but it was amazing the creativity of everyone, what they did with those things. But what happened is, you know, end of the year, we put it all in that room and we go, wow, that all hangs together, because you know what? You know what happens to a lot of brands, is like they have different departments, and they're doing their own thing, they don't remember that the consumer doesn't know that you're divided up into departments inside your company. All they see is your brand out there in the marketplace. They see your logo on something, and they assume that all came from the same person. The same department, but a lot of times in corporations, especially, or bigger companies, you know, that's disparate groups, and sometimes they don't even talk to each other. So they're all doing different things. And the only thing that joins them together is the logo. So that's why it's important to have that brand book and this was a handy tool to take it the next step. So the thing about, everything reflects on how you're perceived. So this comes back to what I said about I know you as a person, all of a sudden you start doing these things that are random things like, something's wrong with her, that's not her. When someone says that's not you, they're meaning that's not your brand, and that's the same thing that you know when you see a brand do something, just like okay, that's not who I signed up to hang out, I'm not dating that brand anymore. I'm moving on to someone else, the next shiny object. So this is a great example of, a lot of you may remember this, but put red cups, holiday cups turn from white to red, and put those on top of cars and taxis, they were glued to the top, affixed to the top, and so, if you saw someone drive off with the coffee cup on the top of their roof you'd say hey, you left your coffee on your roof and then they'd stop and say oh, oh thank you, and they would give you a card, a Starbucks card for a free coffee. (laughter) So it was a promotion, a stunt if you will, but it was very effective. Now let's think about why it was effective. So you go back to the five filters, handcrafted, artistic, sophisticated, human, enduring. Human moment, you're gonna remember that, it hits all those things, at the time Starbucks didn't do traditional advertising, they just started doing some more of that, but if you think of this as far as a connection with the brand, so the amount of attention this got, news media, and all that, was far more effective, far more impressions, than it would have been if you had done traditional advertising. And it was much more effective. You're reaching the target audience, you know, those that care. And you have these, you're creating these brand fans. And also you think of that, remember that experience that I had at the store, you're thinking of that one-on-one connection. It's you and the barista. Well here it's you and that person in the car, so it's that one-on-one connection with the brand. It's a very personal brand. I'm gonna go into Starbucks, I'm gonna work on my, novel, I'm gonna go to Starbucks, I'm gonna have a client meeting. I'm gonna go to Starbucks, I'm gonna breakup with my girlfriend, you know, whatever it is, it's a very personal place, a community, a personal place. So, remember those quarterly get togethers where we rated all the work, according to those five filters? This, is what rated the highest of anything. And I'll read it to you. There's a shorter version and a longer version. The one on the, the longer one says, this is on a store that is closing, so your Starbucks you went to every day, you go and there's a sign on the door, you go, what? It says, "This thing we have together, "it's bigger than this place, "and these sorts of things happen, "but they always seem to work out I in the end. "We can still see each other, it's just "we'll have to meet elsewhere. "So keep your chin up, because we'll be bumping "into each other real soon, Love Starbucks." Well think of that, now think of why that rated highly on the five filters. Handcrafted, it's handwritten. Artistic, handwritten. Sophisticated, the language. Human, very human language. And enduring, you're gonna remember that. So, think of that, the difference between that and a sign that would say closed, go down the street. So that's an attention to every detail of the brand, every touch point of the brand. And that's why that one, it didn't have any image on it, there's no image on it, little person on it. But that can still be very human by the way you talk and the way that you treat it. And here's one other example. This is an example of how you learn. So this is back to Nike, remember how you learn from your customers and then you learn from Lego, you learned, and you did, you know, you create your own product and all that. So this is another thing that we learned. We heard that there was a Starbucks in Riverside, California it was a drive-in, drive through, and you, and we were always concerned about drive throughs. How are you gonna get that third place experience in a drive through? And so what happened was, this guy in a blue truck, he ordered a white chocolate mocha, they made the wrong drink and they handed him the wrong drink, and he said, oh sorry, it's the wrong drink, and they said, oh okay, we'll make you another one, so they made another one, but no charge, because we made you the wrong drink. He said, oh you didn't need to do that unexpected, and so, he said, let me pay for the car behind me, and they said oh, that's nice, and so he did, and then, they paid, each car I think there were seven cars in the line up, they paid for each other. So you think of that brand experience. What amazing brand experience. So we learned from that, we were inspired by that, and we created these pass along cards, these kindness cards, and it told the story of the man in the blue pickup. And you know, we said wherever you are thank you, and so when you got this card, it had a free drink on it, you could pass it along to someone else. Well, holiday season, when we first did this, we had a store in Manhattan, and I can't remember exactly, but I think it was for eight or ten hours, people paid for the drinks of the people behind them. Well imagine that for a minute, remember QSR, quick server restaurant? Imagine that happening at a McDonalds, or any of the others like that. So that's the kind of brand experience that Starbucks is creating, and that human experience when you walk in. And I just put this up cuz it's cool. When you enter into a certain realm in our popular culture, you get made fun of, you know all great brands, it happens to them. I thought this was funny. You can go on, it's online still. You can go to the Oracle of Starbucks, and you go in and it says "astrology is lame, "Myers-Briggs is for losers, the omniscient "Oracle of Starbucks can tell you "everything about your personality "by putting your drink name in." So you put your drink name in, and I put mine in, a tall soy chai latte, and it said, "you're a hippie personality type. "In addition to being a hippie, you're a hypochondriac, "health nut, and you consume all natural products "because you're so intelligent and well informed "it's actually because you're a sucker, "you've dabbled in Wicca, (laughter) "you probably live in California. "Everyone who drinks tall soy chai latte's "should be forced to eat a McDonalds bacon cheeseburger." (laughter) So that's a lot of fun, and that's what happens with your brands, and if you're smart with your brand, of course you use those things. When people make fun of you, you look at it as an honor and not something to defend. And some brands that have you've witnessed that in the news, they've tried to defend, and excuse things, and that always turns out wrong. You embrace those things.