When good brands make questionable moves

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

19 February 2010

Starbucks and Burger King is only a good match for one of them

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.

See more posts in the following related categories: Burger King coffee branding retail branding Sears Starbucks


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