Don’t forget to drip!

It seems, these days, that there are certain markets where differentiation is a tricky thing to pull off.

Big chain hotels are so alike that it would be easy to forget whether you were staying in a Jury’s Inn, Premier Inn, Holiday Inn even if you were standing in the lobby. Chain coffee shops too have fallen into the same pattern, Costa, Nero, Starbucks all serve a similarly broad selection coffees, served in identical premises. Only Coffee Republic stands apart slightly. They do have specific colours however, red for Costa, blue for Nero, black and red for Coffee Republic and Green for Starbucks. It makes it easy to pick out the one you want on a high street which may feature all four.

Marketers often follow the DRIP mantra: Differentiate, Remind, Inform, Persuade. This is a useful reminder to anyone running an advert in such a competitive field.

Starbucks Print Ad from the London Evening Standard 12 Jan 2012

Starbucks Print Advert 12 Jan 2012

Starbucks is running an advert in the national press that flies in the face of this. It is an advert promoting its loyalty scheme, but uses a white cup formed of stars against a black background. This image made me instantly think of Guinness. Whether that’s credit to Guinness’ marketing or not is irrelevant. The advert has failed to differentiate itself from other adverts in the field. Although the two aren’t direct competitors, they are advertising in the same space. It is noticeable that the ad fails to meet any of the DRIP objectives.

The Starbucks brand is one of the most recognisable logos in the world a target set, and reached under the leadership of Arthur Rubenfeld.

Despite having changed several times over the years, the well known logo and colour scheme will instantly connect the audience with the brand, however the colour scheme has been abandoned a tiny logo squashed into the corner. It even has a hole where the logo on the cup should be! (Ok, I appreciate this could be the rewards sub brand logo, but it hasn’t got nearly the same presence).

Missing out this initial attention grabber could lose audience share, which will lose customers.

It’s too easy for marketing teams and design agencies to get caught up in their own world. Advertisers should test their creations with people who are unfamiliar with the brief or discussions around the ad, and get some honest feedback.

Starbucks aren’t the only ones that make this kind of mistake, newspapers, magazines and TV stations are littered with forgettable, nondescript adverts.

So, the moral of the story? Always remember to DRIP!
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About Sam Elfer

Blogging about writing
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