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3 Brand Management Lessons from the Recent Starbucks Uproar

The commotion caused by the release of Starbucks’ holiday cups last month provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on brand management. Here are some important elements that jumped out at us.

React swiftly and carefully. Public reaction can be unpredictable. While it is always smart for a company to anticipate public reaction to branding efforts, you cannot prepare for every possibility. In the case of the 2015 holiday cups, it’s unlikely that Starbucks could have predicted the controversy that ensued. Nevertheless, the company quickly responded with a statement plainly explaining the reasoning behind the design of the new cups. This swift and appropriate response was a wise move on the part of Starbucks because it kept the situation from escalating.

Social media has a wide reach. This is yet another example of how, in a digital world, word can travel fast. Social media is a powerful force. This valuable marketing tool has visibility and word-of-mouth for your brand in a very short period of time. This recent experience shows how fast social media can cause word to spread. For instance, the story was the talk of the Internet just a few days after Starbucks released the cups.

Free PR can be valuable. A huge byproduct of the holiday cup outcry is the widespread attention it received. In the first few days alone, the story was shared by more than 500,000 people. Not only did the word-of-mouth for these holiday cups spread quickly, but the story also swiftly traveled across several media channels. Starbucks was on millions of people’s minds for days. The free PR that this gave Starbucks is remarkable.

A brand’s success or failure may well depend on how the above aspects of brand management are addressed. Are you interested in adding some muscle to your brand management arsenal? Get in touch with us and leave a comment below!

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