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closeau.pngYou gotta feel for big companies these days. Between the lousy economy and consumers having so many ways to make their opinions heard, it’s hard for big brands to stay relevant.
Starbucks is reacting by un-branding – taking its name off new stores that don’t look or feel like the Starbucks on every corner. Kellogg’s is reacting by putting their name on every single corn flake they sell, using a specially developed laser tool.
You can’t fake unique
Starbucks, which has been experimenting with stealth stores that don’t carry the Starbucks name, is trying to revert back to its original neighborhood coffee shops, which first opened in Seattle 38 years ago.
But that was many moons ago, and Starbucks is a big brand now. Big brands can’t fake unique, and they can’t get small, no matter how many Twitter accounts and Facebook pages they start.
Stealth Starbucks
Back in July, Starbucks started testing names and layouts for new stores that are not called Starbucks. They started opening stealth stores during the summer in Chicago and NYC. There are other stealth Starbucks in London and Japan.
Kellogg’s wants nothing to change
Kelloggs.pngKellogg’s, on the other hand, has become so worried about losing their identity to similarly packaged supermarket cereals that they developed a way to laser their name onto each tiny corn flake. The concentrated beam of light, they say, creates a toasted appearance, helping them fight fake flakes, without changing the taste.
The crazy part: nobody will know about the little laser etchings until after they buy the cereal, as Greg pointed out in comments below.
Which brand’s strategy will be successful? Neither! One’s more absurd than the other.
Starbucks is a pretty socially conscious company, with a large online community. If people are complaining about Starbucks’ stores’ lack of individual personality, the company has more to gain by identifying the new concept stores than they do hiding the brand name.
Back in 2008, Starbucks asked “How should we change Starbucks,” and got thousands of suggestions. They maintain a blog called My Starbucks Idea, where they regularly ask for suggestions.
Going stealth with change runs against what Starbucks says, in a world where what your brand does is increasingly more important than what it says.
So, dear Starbucks, tell us what you’re up to. Lots of us like you the way you are. And the ones who don’t will just go somewhere else.
And Kellogg’s: I’d like little pictures of people burned into my corn flakes please. Can your laser do that?