Friday, May 04, 2012

Power Brand Experience: how Starbucks creates and manages high-touch, high-volume personal brand engagements

Starbucks in Shanghai
Go big or go home.

On the occasion of my 8th year of "BRAND INNOVATION," I'm looking back at the key concepts that influenced my perspective on power branding.

We have learned that coffee king Starbucks can create and manage millions – literally millions – of engagements across the country with the same energy it would with just a few.

Deborah Taylor, director of local marketing integration for Starbucks, shared with us how they did it by embracing a high-volume, high-touch experiential plan, executed on a nationwide scale, to create and maintain a consistent experience across thousands of brand ambassadors. Plus, Starbucks’ agency partner, Derek Drake of Passage Events, tells about how they developed a system to manage the process.

It’s well-known that the brand experience is a hallmark of the Starbucks retail store. So, the goal of its events is to extend that experience outside the store.

The first element of the event brief is to be fun and approachable. An example is a “Fender
Blender,” in which consumers sit on a bike and pedal-powered the blender to mix their drinks. This took about 20 seconds and the Starbucks staff had 20 more seconds to connect with the consumer.

The second element is to surprise and delight. At events held at major transit stations when people are standing in long lines, Starbucks employees might spontaneously appear to make commuters’ day a little nicer. At impromptu gatherings, Starbucks employees might show up with as little as two hours’ notice to distract the crowd and share some of the barista experience outside.

The third element was to spread the word. To extend the experience, Starbucks often set up
blogging stations at the events.

Creating high-touch, high-volume events: Applications for other power brand marketers

You can help apply this creative approach to your events. In brand event planning, connect in a relevant way, honestly engage the customer, make it easy to communicate, and motivate to take action.

I created this template to list some of the ways you could increase the “touch” of your event and extend the impact of the experience.

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