Site moved to www.brandautopsy.com/2005/10/make_the_common.html, redirecting in 1 second...

« Building the Business Creates the Brand | Main | Touchology Trumps Technology »

October 03, 2005

Make the Common Uncommon

Stk_cover_copy_3
[Second in a series of posts on Starbucks Tribal Knowledge]


To put it simply, remarkable businesses make the common uncommon.

Apple made the common computer uncommon.
Toyota Prius made the common car uncommon.
In-N-Out Burger made the common fast food hamburger uncommon.
Method made the common hand soap uncommon.
Whole Foods Market made the common grocery store uncommon.

And Starbucks made the common cup of coffee uncommon.

Before Starbucks, the common cup of coffee could best be described as a hot, brown liquid. A drink to be endured for its jumpstart your day benefits of caffeine.

Coffee’s purpose then was as a caffeine delivery vehicle. And established brands like Folger’s, Maxwell House, Brim, etc. were the most popular caffeine delivery vehicles on the market. It seemed people were satisfied with their instant coffee ritual so long as it gave them a jolt.

But Starbucks wasn't satisfied doing coffee like everyone else. Starbucks believed coffee should be enjoyed for its rich, strong, and densely-sophisticated flavors and not simply endured for its caffeine pick-me-up qualities.

Starbucks would have failed in the marketplace (and more importantly, failed themselves) if they did coffee like everyone else -- light roast, light flavor, cheap low-grade coffee, and cheap low-impact experiences.

Instead, Starbucks has taken the common cup of coffee and made it uncommon by focusing on higher-quality coffee beans and higher-quality coffee experiences. What once was something to be endured, Starbucks made into something to be enjoyed. Something to experience.

Starbucks Tribal Knowledge tells us businesses can find prosperity from a selling commodity so long as they can make the common uncommon … and uncommonly great at that.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341bf89d53ef00d83426a66253ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Make the Common Uncommon:

» Starbucks Tribal Knowledge Part 2 – Making the Common Uncommon from David V. Lorenzo
Brand Autopsy has the second post in a series on Starbuck’s Tribal Knowledge. This post details how Starbucks makes the coffee experience remarkable. Here is the money quote: “Apple made the common computer uncommon.Toyota Prius made the common car unc... [Read More]

» Starbucks on Strategy from Business Ethics & Social Enterprise
As uninterested in promoting Starbucks as an admirable company as I am, I must admit that I agree with the insights John Moore from Brand Autopsy has about the company’s business strategy. Starbucks certainly charges an arm, a leg and several toes f... [Read More]

» Should Corporations Donate to the Political Process? from Jack Yoest
Christine and Tom DeLay, with the Hammer Cake I ran into Tom DeLay and his wife Christine at an event earlier this year in your Nation's Capital. Before he was indicted for "criminal conspiracy," allegedly moving money from corporate... [Read More]

» Should Corporations Donate to the Political Process? from Jack Yoest
Christine and Tom DeLay, with the Hammer Cake I ran into Tom DeLay and his wife Christine at an event earlier this year in your Nation's Capital. Before he was indicted for "criminal conspiracy," allegedly moving money from corporate... [Read More]

» Should Corporations Donate to the Political Process? from Jack Yoest
Christine and Tom DeLay, with the Hammer Cake I ran into Tom DeLay and his wife Christine at an event earlier this year in your Nation's Capital. Before he was indicted for "criminal conspiracy," allegedly moving money from corporate... [Read More]

» Should Corporations Donate to the Political Process? from Jack Yoest
Christine and Tom DeLay, with the Hammer Cake I ran into Tom DeLay and his wife Christine at an event earlier this year in your Nation's Capital. Before he was indicted for "criminal conspiracy," allegedly moving money from corporate... [Read More]

Comments

Seems like the opposite would be true as well.

Make the uncommon common.

We walk into a Starbucks expecting an uncommon experience. The fact that they reliably deliver the uncommonly good cup of coffee, the uncommonly pleasant buying experience, the uncommonly and uniquely Starbucks environment... brings people back for more.

If Starbucks were only intermittently uncommon, our loyalties would wane.

Dustin ... nice job flipping the script. Making the uncommon common jibes with Seth Godin's Edgecrafting thinking.

On Wednesday I'll post a Starbucks nugget titled THE EXCESS OF ACCESS which contains an idea that plays into the uncommon common & common uncommon thinking.

Again ... nice thinking on the making the uncommon common.

Really, you had tol bring up In-N-Out Burger while I'm hungry, in MISSOURI?

Thanks a lot...

Nick ... I'm suffering too. The closest In-N-Out to Austin, TX is somewhere in Arizona. Ugh. I could use a double-double animal-style right now.


Starbucks is definitley uncommon in service, product differentiation and corporate culture, but when you can't walk two blocks without running into another one, how uncommon is that? :)

Just wanted to say that I've done extensive research on corporate Starbucks for my MBA classes, and will hopefully be applying to Corporate Starbucks when I move to Seattle in May after I graduate.

Starbucks is more than just coffee, it's a lifestyle.

Great entry.

Growing up on the NYC area in the 70s in Italian/Euro neighborhoods where coffee was dark, strong and part of the street wallpaper, I sort of feel bad for those of you in the Pacific Northwest who had to wait until the 80s to get coffee.

I don't want to get into a Starbucks rant here, plenty of other places to do that. But to suggest that Starbucks essentially invented coffee is a bit over the top. Starbucks "invented" their own dark roast, which their customers eventually became convinced was what coffee was supposed to taste like (an analogy of using Kobe beef but always cooking it well-done wouldn't be out of place here).

Great marketing for sure. But let's not go overboard with saying they're the best coffee. That's like saying McD's is the best burger because of its sales and ubiquity.

Starbucks has built a convenient and a "safe" brand, and one that serves its customers and employees well. Schultz should be commended for recognizing the business potential for a coffee-based chain, an achievement which alone should be worth all the kudos he's received. That Schultz morphed the brand into an "environment" or "lifestyle" also deserves praise.

But as far as the best coffee, not even close. Sorry. That's where you cross the line from storytelling and reporting to fantasy. What's true for the Pacific Northwest isn't necessarily what everyone else experienced.

RichW,

Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see JohnMoore claim it was the best coffee, just uncommon.

You know, like Godin's Big Moo. "Stop Trying to Be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable"

The comments to this entry are closed.