Where’s the disconnect?

Oct 03, 2017

Marketing and Branding – An ongoing blog by Randy Lopez

Yesterday I went to a Starbucks for my morning caffeine-load and went through my usual ordering sequence (honed from years of practice) and waited for my coffee to be prepared. Nothing unusual. Just another routine day interacting with a favorite brand.


Once I received my coffee, I went to add a packet of raw sugar. Instead of my brown packet, the replacement was the generic packets of white sugar. I know it sounds minor, but this surprised me. First of all, this can happen for a number of reasons, but I kind of expect a chain of this size to keep an extra case or two in stock. Secondly, for a company that promotes quality ingredients, replacing generic white sugar as a substitute for raw sugar seemed like a brand disconnect.


Of course, I’m writing about this to make a point. I will still frequently visit this location. On the other hand, if I notice it again, I might just go to another Starbucks as my brown sugar is more a part of my daily routine. My cup of coffee is only a part of my experience. The brown sugar, the cardboard cup sleeve, the green apron, the logo, and all the other elements define the Starbucks brand for me. When one of them is missing or replaced with a knockoff, the brand loses a little bit of its shine. Take a look at the restaurant business. How many concepts started off with something simple like branded quality napkins and then for whatever reason, they went unbranded and ended up being switched to a generic, bargain product. We’ve all noticed brands that “take away” small touchpoints. The parmesan shakers in your favorite pizza concept are harder to find, the fries lose some of their seasoning, the menus get beaten up and not replaced as often, the table tents (and menus) begin to look like they are now printed in the back office copier…


Your guests notice these things, especially your regulars. When working with concepts that need to update their brand, often times the original concept’s experience and food quality are watered down with simpler presentations, shortcuts in quality, and brand disconnects.


At Synergy, my goal is to create brand touchpoints that are realistic, financially sound, and create a concept that stands out from your competition. As a brand leader, part of my process is to help you understand the complete DNA of your brand so if you run out of “raw sugar” the obvious solution is to get more so that a generic knockoff isn’t your first idea of a fix. And because our Operations, Culinary, and Design teams work together, our focus is working to support the brand through every touchpoint and guest interaction. Unlike other consultants, we don’t believe you can truly fix things unless all parts of your business understand the brand and the key touchpoints that will resonate with your guests.


Contact me at Synergy Consultants to create a lasting concept or to get your brand back on track.