Traditional marketing vs. customer experience

Starbucks and Intel might seem like two of the most opposite companies you could find, with completely different brand tactics and messaging. However, both companies worked within these strategies to emerge at the top of their industries. Intel used traditional marketing methods to become a very strong ingredient brand, while Starbucks used marketing through customer service (long before it was popular) to build a coffee house on practically every corner. Two different companies, two different methods – same successful result.

Starbucks – Marketing through customer experience

Starbucks saw an opportunity in the market and utilized an already existing (though small) brand – a Seattle area coffee roaster – to create a new, larger brand. Its use of integrated marketing communications ensured consumers saw the core vales of the Starbucks’ brand from start to finish, on everything it did. A brand case study says one of its founders, “realized the powerful business opportunities that lay ahead of the company if he could preserve Starbucks’ core values while exposing a wider range of people to the brand” (306). From its logo, to the design of the store, to the training of the staff, Starbucks focused its brand building on the experience of the company.

Keller discusses six concepts of an IMC program in his text: coverage, contribution, commonality, complementarity, versatility, and cost (267). By creating a “third place” for consumers to gather (outside of the home or work) Starbucks addressed the contribution aspect through its store design and customer experience (Keller case, 307). By keeping all stores owned by the corporation, Starbucks was able to capitalize on commonality by making the experience as similar as possible  for all customers (Keller case, 310). Coverage was achieved through using a “hub store” to draw in traffic and then expand into an even wider market (Keller case, 311).

Only once the brand was stable did it expand into other markets with joint partnerships like Host Marriott and United Airlines. Though Starbucks faced the challenge of keeping the quality similar, the company focused on training its partners and eventually was able to expand the message of the Starbucks brand. It continued to do so with branded items such as Frappucinos and ice cream (Keller case, 312). In each case, it focused on first making sure the technology and logistics were in place to ensure quality, which in turn, enhanced the brand. Throughout all of its approaches, Starbucks was single-minded in its promotion of quality and focused on integrating that quality throughout its brand channels and marketing.

Intel – Lots of dollars, lots of return

Intel utilized more advertising than Starbucks in its IMC approach. Intel started its coverage with billboards targeting only its business consumers, but noticing an increase in sales, realized it could directly target end-users through print, TV and billboard advertising. One way Intel focused on maximizing it coverage, complementarity and cost was through the development of a logo and sound that its business partners could play at the end of their advertising. In addition, Intel focused on creating a brand name for its processor, which allowed it to be single-minded in promotion (focusing on the same logo, sound and brand name) as well as the ability to protect its copyright. Though Intel faced a challenge of branding an ingredient most people never see, the campaign proved successful – due to Intel’s $500 million ad spend, 80 percent of the public recognized Intel, 75 percent thought positively about the brand and 50 percent looked for logo when they shopped.

Both of these companies had huge success using two very different marketing methods – but the methods they used were well thought-out and resonated with their audiences. What does your brand stand for? How can you portray that not just in your creatives, but in the way in which you use those creatives?

Keller, Kevin Lane. (2008). Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring and Managing Brand Equity (3rd edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Keller, Kevin Lane. (2008). Best Practice Cases in Branding: Lessons from the World’s Strongest Brands (3rd edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

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