I know that every Starbucks coffee cup has a quote on it. I also know that whether I agree with the quote or not, I always enjoy reading it. Still, I only remember to read it once for every 20 cups I drink and discard. Yesterday was one of those times.
"The way we get to live forever is through memories stored in the hearts and souls of those whose lives we touch. That's our soul print. It's our comfort, our emotional nourishment at the end of the day and the end of a life. How wonderful that they are called up at will and savored randomly. It seems to me we should spend our lives in a conscious state of creating these meaningful moments that live on. Memories matter." - Leeza Gibbons, TV and radio personality, The Way I See It Starbucks quote #292
I don't know if Starbucks consciously and purposely placed these cups in all of their stores on September 11th, but if they didn't, the coincidence was supernatural. Whenever I remember to notice the coffee cup quote of the day, I always think about the character it demonstrates. Not so much the character of the person quoted, but rather the character of the company that's bothering to do the quoting.
Putting quotes on the side of the coffee cup is a true commitment. Somebody has to find the quotes. Meetings have to be held to choose the quotes. Approvals have to be gotten to use the quotes. Typesetting and inking has to be done to print the quotes. Money is spent to produce coffee cups with quotes. In a company that is closing 600 stores this year, the cup quote budget surely came into question. If you're going to fill the cup space and pay for the ink, shouldn't the effort be for some type of cross promotion that generates advertising revenue?
For Duncan Donuts or McDonald's the answer might be yes. For Starbucks, the answer is an obvious no. The quote on the cup is part of the Starbucks vibe. And whether you like the Starbucks vibe or not, there's no denying that they have one. Beverages are just something that they do pay the rent. What they're really selling is the vibe.
Anthropologie has a vibe. Saks Fifth Avenue has a vibe. Whole Foods has a vibe. Apple Stores have a vibe. Having a vibe is not a prerequisite for success in the retail industry. But for those who can successfully craft it, the vibe can become your brand, and your brand can transcend your products to become the product itself.
Just like coffee cup quotes, once you create it, a vibe has to be managed. While basking in the glow of my coffee cup inspiration yesterday, I saw the Starbucks shift leader snap at a couple of team members and send them scurrying. A few minutes later she issued more orders loudly enough to steal the attention of every customer away from their own conversation. As soon as she walked out the door to run an errand, the employees relaxed, the scurrying ceased, and the duties were performed with ease and good humor. When the shift leader was spotted returning, the banter stopped, the smiles disappeared and the scurrying resumed. It was a great demonstration of vibe kill; death by management.
I e-mailed my cup quote to friends, family, and business associates and I gave Starbucks the credit for it. The thing about a good vibe is that it often creates a good buzz.