How smart brand communication can build customer affinity

I get the value proposition at the heart of the Starbucks brand experience–Rewarding Everyday Moments. It resonates with me.

I know that this experience is the result of the visionary leadership of Howard Schultz and an organizational culture and business practices that have nurtured this compelling promise of value for customers since the brand’s inception.

It can be found in the superior and customizable nature of the coffee and beverages, the quality of the pastries and sandwiches, the friendly and efficient service provided by the knowledgeable Baristas, and the elegant and comfortable in-store environments where you are most often surrounded by people like you. Well, not exactly like you, but close enough. We’re all kindred spirits that share a common affinity for Starbucks as our Third Place and relate to how the brand satisfies our functional, emotional and experiential needsStarbucks-Logo

This is how I have previously expressed my affinity for Starbucks.

I’m a fan of Starbucks because its team works tirelessly to provide customers with compelling value. Every day they strive to make the Starbucks brand a leader in the hearts and minds of its customers by delivering on the promise of the brand.

Right now, I’m feeling this affinity on an even deeper level–the result of being exposed to smart brand communication: Starbucks cleverly targeting customers with a compelling message by virtue of a markedly improved Wi-Fi experience.

Here’s how it came about.

My day started as usual with a visit to my local Starbucks to enjoy an Americano, catch up on outstanding email, and scan the local newspapers and online resources for interesting tidbits of information.

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 8.27.06 AM

Upon opening my browser to access Starbucks’ Wi-Fi, I was speedily transported to the Wi-Fi landing page. After clicking on the “Accept & Connect button I was surprised to find myself viewing a screen similar to an ECG monitor with the headline “Free Wi-Fi at Starbucks sponsored by the Trillium Gift of Life Network.

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 8.26.34 AMI was then presented with a short series of screens containing the logo for beadonor.ca ending with the final screen giving me the option to click either the “Connect & Register” button or the “No thanks, just take me online” button. Surprisingly, I found that I liked the short detour.

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 8.27.29 AM

How does this communication build customer affinity?

Starbucks’ co-promotion with the Trillium Gift of Life Network is on-brand. It has clear potential to strengthen and reinforce its customer’s perceptions of Starbucks as a socially responsible brand and business. This is an important pillar for Starbucks given its strong support for initiatives such as Starbucks™ Shared Planet™. These kinds of initiative help to deepen the emotional resonance of the Starbucks brand for its customers.

For the Trillium Gift of Life Network this co-promotion helps the organization communicate its message—the importance of Canadians registering to become organ donors given the shortage of suitable organs for urgent life-saving transplants—to a highly desirable demographic in a cost-efficient manner. This appeal is perfectly aligned with the beliefs of the audience about the importance of living a socially responsible life.

For Starbucks this co-promotion is just a start. It has now recognized the value of its direct media channel to its Wi-Fi using customers. This offers Starbucks new opportunities for the future:

  • It creates a significant new source of revenue given the audience that Starbucks can deliver to other brands that seek to target its desirable demographic. Analysts and pundits should take note that Starbucks is now firmly in the media business.
  • It creates the opportunity for Starbucks to enhance the emotional resonance of its brand for its customers with other similarly well-conceived brand communications

Kudos to the Starbucks Canada team for this example of how smart brand communication can build the affinity of customers.

If you enjoyed this post then you should also read the posts below which have received acclaim from readers of this blog:

How to nurture your organization’s culture to build your brand

Brand positioning. Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.

TD Bank Financial Group–a strong brand because it’s strong on the inside

About ashleykonson

STRATEGY CONSULTING | EXECUTIVE COACHING | CORPORATE TRAINING | KEYNOTE SPEAKING | Ashley Konson is the Managing Partner of Global Brand Leaders Inc., a new kind of brand consulting company dedicated to making brands and their teams leaders across the globe. He is a Brand Leader, Business Consultant and Award-Winning Educator, and a recognized thought leader and fervent advocate of the premise that strong brands and businesses achieve and sustain their market positions because they are strong Inside out™.
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2 Responses to How smart brand communication can build customer affinity

  1. Phulvir says:

    Hi Ashley,

    Will this idea be looked upon as such a good one if it was implemented by some local coffee shop other than Starbucks ?? …Though Organ donation is no doubt a noble concept but there might be many people who would like to finish their morning coffee before seeing such a request….Isn’t it possible to have 2 or 3 different kinds of landing pages depending on what time of day you open it….??….. I think “Gift of life” sounds good any time of the day but “Organ donation” is slightly different……just my novice opinion….

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