Cup of coffee beans sitting on a bed of whole coffee beans

Every Touchpoint Affects Your Brand, Starbucks®

We’re big fans of that down-home feeling you get when you visit the original Starbucks coffee shop in Seattle. And nothing helps carry that down-home feeling through the stores better than the hand-written signs that describe their products.

But which, we ask, is a greater risk to your brand: losing that folksy, homespun look, or losing your credibility among your customers, the vast majority of whom have at least graduated from high school?

Hand printed sign in a Starbucks cafe, across from the Department of Education building

Four grammatical errors in less than 40 words!

The photo to your left was snapped in a Starbucks café in Washington DC. It contains less than 40 words. But if you take the time to read it carefully, you’ll find at least four grammatical errors.

For example, the first word (“Medium”) is misspelled. Most people who read the sign won’t notice that, because the first and last letters of the word are in the right positions, and once we recognize a word from the first few characters, our minds tend to fill in the rest from whatever letters are available.

The third line of text is missing an article. It should read, “it’s a blend that lives up to its name.” And while we’re on that all-important first (and only) sentence, let’s not miss the next glaring error: the second “it’s”: shouldn’t have an apostrophe. With an apostrophe, “it’s” is always a contraction (for “it is” or “it has”), whereas the possessive form of “it” is “its.”

That brings us to the name of the product, the most important part of the brand’s identity. “Starbucks® Pike Place® Roast” is missing a letter – not just any letter, but a letter essential to the trademark. Without its terminal “s,” the name “Starbucks” belongs not to a coffee giant, but to the prominent American figure skater Alicia “JoJo” Starbuck, three-time United States pair skating champion and two-time Olympian. Talk about skating on thin ice!

And where in DC was this Starbucks location, exactly? Why it was right across from the U.S. Department of Education building.

Don’t get me wrong. I admit that being a good barista doesn’t require a degree in neurosurgery. But am I off my bean when I suggest that if Starbucks were really interested in building brand, than Starbuck shuold proofraed it’s sines?