Starbucks films expertly communicate brand essence

Branding is about communicating what makes you distinct in a way that builds desire and loyalty. The essence of the Starbucks brand is to be a meeting place. That brand character has been expertly captured in a series of films. Organized under the “Meet me at Starbucks” campaign, these beautiful short films focus entirely on the customer. At the same time, they communicate the international extent of the brand. You can’t help but notice two important things:

1. Starbucks is an international brand that’s wonderfully consistent around the globe.

2. People around the world love Starbucks for the same reason: it’s a convenient and friendly place where they can get together and share the things that matter in their lives.

Far too often, brands are so busy focusing on themselves they forget that they wouldn’t be in business without the customer. By celebrating the customer, Starbucks actually says more about itself than it would have through a typical marketing message. Here you don’t see messages about how they make their coffee beverages or what kind of products you can enjoy. They wisely avoid any of that. Even the Starbucks identity is shown only in short glimpses. Apple has long done the same thing, as have a few other brands. Maybe the fact that this is done so rarely makes it even more noticeable, but I hope more CEOs get the message.

Take a look at your own marketing. Is it focused entirely on you? If so, you need to make some changes because that approach is quickly becoming a liability for brands. Ask yourself how you can celebrate your customers and the way they use your products. Highlight their stories. Make them the heroes of your world, as Starbucks and Apple have done.

See the series at

Two samples from the series are shown below:

George Pytlik

George Pytlik has been involved in the advertising industry for over 30 years and designed his first website when the Internet was one year old. He was an internationally recognized speaker on advertising and branding and served on a number of communication committees at various times throughout his career, as well as writing a regular column for Marketing magazine.

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