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Starbucks: Is Your Brand Worth More Than Just a ‘Cup of Joe’?

Everyday millions of Americans start the day reaching for a cup of coffee. Some of us cannot even transform into a human being without it. This delicious drug accounts for $18 billion in sales each year in the US. Those of us who reach for that Grande Caramel Macchiato with extra froth are paying in the $5.00 area at our local Starbucks.

Why are we willing to pay $5.00 from Starbucks instead of $3.00 at McDonald's for what is relatively the same product? Or let's take that further, why from Starbucks over the newspaper shop in your office building? What is so different about Starbucks that we'll pay that extra $2-3.00?

And, how about the coffee, is it really that much better? William Arruda, personal brand guru, explains how we should take a page from the Starbucks playbook.

The Starbuck's Brand

“If people believe they share values with a company they will stay loyal to the brand.” -Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks

Starbucks is a brand that promises an experience (taste, variety, ambiance, customer service) and for the most part it is consistent where ever you go. Products (coffee anywhere) compete based on price or convenience. Brands (Starbucks) are sought after, selected and purchased at a market price (value determined by the consumer). Similarly, in the career and business marketplace, we are all brands that promise an experience. However, some of us have not yet learned how to distinguish ourselves as a brand (like ‘coffee anywhere’) or communicate our shared values with our clients or employers.

So How Did Starbucks Create their Brand?

  1. They established a leadership position: “A third place between home and work.

  2. They received lots of visibility: 80% of all Americans live within 20 miles of a Starbucks.

  3. They partnered with others to increase distribution and access to broader markets (e.g., restaurants, cafeterias, airports, hospitals) – even Oprah promotes Starbucks Chai tea!

  4. Starbucks tells a consistent message with the types of product they bring to market, and their engagement with the community and environment.

Your Personal Brand at Work: More than the Average Joe?

As a brand in the career marketplace, whether working in an organization, as an entrepreneur or seeking a position (promotion or new employment), it is important to carve out a leadership role within the industries that we earn a living, obtain visibility for this role, partner with others, and tell a consistent message about what makes us distinct and the value we provide to a company or an industry.

Establishing a brand is about communicating who you are in a unique way that connects on emotional levels with consistency; it is about demonstrating your consistent ability to create value for your clients or employers.

Create an Intentional Brand

Do you know your current brand (and yes, you already have one) in the career marketplace? Are you communicating an intentional message to the public (your clients and/or employer)? Do you have a career vision or brand positioning statement? How are you gaining visibility for your brand?

Lots of questions -- I know. Get a journal and reflect on these questions. Develop a brand strategy that will move you towards your goals. Need more structure, order my updated workbook, Branding You, Inc.

Until next time, create a great day!

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