Shifting Perceptions in Brands

iStock_000003594413XSmall When I lived in Seattle, a long time ago, there were a handful of Starbucks mixed in with the multitude of coffee shops all over the city.

(If someone remembers the name of the place around U Dub with the “Toast Art” please remind me in the comments below.)

Anyway, I remember Starbucks as being fun and cool. The coffee was tasty. I always got it in a mug because to go cups imply hurry to me and I never saw the point of stopping for coffee if you were in a rush.

Music was played at low volumes.

People had conversations.

Starbucks coffee actually equaled relaxation to me.

Today, I tend to avoid Starbucks.

This is my opinion and perception, but usually the music playing is not appealing to me. It’s played at a volume that requires people attempting to have a conversation to have it at a loud volume. That means the store sounds like a hen house filled with clucking chickens. Some Starbucks in DC feel more like a nightclub to me than a coffee shop.

Though I recently learned that French Press service is still available and I can get a cup, it’s just not a place I view as a “hang out” anymore.

The atmosphere still has the feel of an Africanized Honey Bee nest.

As far as I can tell, this is all by design too.

What’s up with that?

Brands change.

Sometimes they evolve, or mature.

Sometimes they just change.

Maybe I’m a stick in the mud. I can still find coffee shops that fit my model of a relaxing place to drink coffee (I know, relax and coffee seem mutually exclusive). Obviously many people like the way Starbucks is now, or maybe they think it’s the way it “should be.”

Did this all really change by design though? I read all the articles on the marketing genius behind the curtain at Starbucks. I wonder though if things are the way they are today because this is really want brings the best value to the customers (and the shareholders) or if it’s the result of random drifts which have left things where they are now?

Here’s the question: with your product, service or “personal brand,” does it follow the ideals you started with or has it changed over time too?

If it has changed, was it something you did based on the intersection of your own values and customer values?

If it hasn’t changed are you keeping things the way they are for the same reasons?

In other words, are things really how you want them to be?

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