Thursday, May 08, 2008

Losing Focus – Anyone can do it!

What’s going on, Starbucks?
Ted Matthews and his team of “brand coaches” at Toronto-based Instinct Brand Equity are accusing the international coffee chain of losing sight of its true self in its quest for growth. Of course, it’s the same problem that besets many companies that lose sight of basic values and operations as they grow.
“You’ve really been screwing up,” they tell Starbucks this week in their newsletter, Instinct. “Your stock price has halved in 52 weeks. You’re closing stores — terribly humbling for a company that has 16,000 units and wants 40,000 to cover the planet."
The grounds for Instinct’s complaint? “Bad service, poor product and dirty stores: these are the issues ruining your experience, your profitability, your Brand.
“You have too many staff with inadequate training, and substandard hires who lack a positive attitude.”
They also take aim at coffee temperatures (“the same drink can be lukewarm on one visit and tongue-burning the next”) and stale sandwiches.
The Brand Coaches conclude that Starbuck’s emphasis on growth has shifted its focus “from a consistent, high-quality coffee experience to a massive construction project.”
Their advice: “Focus on pleasing your customers — not the stock market.”
I reprint these comments in detail because I love to see companies called out publicly for non-performance – especially when it’s by people who truly love those businesses, and just want them to rediscover what made them great.

The question for you is: why would your best clients say about your standards, your attention to detail, your brand? Are you still putting the emphasis on customers, or are you being distracted by selfish concerns of your own?

What would a Brand Coach say about you?

(For more info on Instinct, see
To read their newsletter, click here.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent article. It would be really exciting to see a brand coach tear apart a new company everyday or every week on a website. So many companies need a kick in the pants.