The Power of Branding

The Power of Branding

Webcopyplus recently had the pleasure of participating in a creative session with Canadian marketing communications consultant Brian Follett, who ingeniously demonstrated the value of branding.

He talked about a plain, white Styrofoam cup on one end of a line, followed by several other cups, each more elaborate than the prior. The last cup was a Starbucks cup.

“Each one’s filled with brown liquid,” he said, promptly pointing out few would pay for the first cup, but many pay upwards of $5 for the last cup.

Without a doubt, branding has the power to shape our perceptions, heavily influence our buying decisions and inspire loyalty.

But is the Starbucks brand flawless? Not by a double shot, suggests branding consultant Rob Frankel, noting the coffee giant’s value has dropped by almost half in the past year. He claims it’s because Starbucks has no “genuine brand,” and asserts it never did.

Frankel argues “Fivebucks” (coined by Jerry Seinfeld) fails to make people understand why the brand is the only solution to their problem.

He stated: “To this day, there is not one person who can accurately and consistently articulate why Starbucks is preferable to other competing brands. Not the average yutz in the street . Not the vice-president of their ad agency. Not even the CEO of Starbucks himself. And you can bet that if they can’t articulate why Starbucks is ‘the only solution,’ nobody else in this great land of ours can, either.“

Some weeks ago, Sharon Zackfia, an analyst at William Blair & Co. in Chicago, commented: “Investors are going to have to digest the fact that there’s no sacred cow left in retail.”

Will the Starbucks stock continue to leak? Not if its brand can help it.

2 responses to “The Power of Branding”

  1. David Larson says:

    Clever piece on branding. As for Starbucks, they bumped up their prices of already inflated price tags last summer, and customers are saying enough is enough. They can get the same ‘experience’ elsewhere for half the cost.

  2. Claire Houle says:

    The decreasing value reflects the fact people are coming to their senses and realizing Starbucks ain’t that great! Others will soon start eating away at their profits.

    Actually, I believe there’ll be a trend to reject the big guy and go back to the little character places.

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