Starbucks and Burger King. In another example of a brand going bad, we see that Starbucks and its brand, Seattle’s Best, will now be offered at Burger King. From a brand perspective, that’s like a Movado watch being sold at Safeway. What does it make you think of Movado?

Burger_King_logo1From Burger King’s standpoint, it makes sense in a variety of ways. McDonald’s has increased its leadership position by offering coffee above the burnt-on-the-burner type the fast-food industry has offered for years. It also has the potential to elevate a BK brand that has lost its way.

That is, if the Starbucks brand still had power.

As I’ve said before, the Starbucks brand used to be about a greater experience and it invented a category of elite coffee that didn’t exist before. However, the market has gone from immature to mature as you can get high-quality coffee at the grocery store. Even the greater experience has been matched or even exceeded.

Starbucks is one of a handful of great brands that have fallen in disarray, confused about what its new brand should be. (Kmart comes to mind.) But there is a way for them to capture the highest emotional intensities in the market and reclaim a frontrunner position. (Even Sears could if it looked to something else.) Sometimes, a brand partnership makes sense, such as FedEx buying Kinko’s. Both are “peace of mind” brands.

But going the way of Burger King doesn’t fix the brand problem for Starbucks.