When Starbucks names your cups: A marketing strategy as tasty as their coffee!
Have you ever wondered why Starbucks baristas sign your cups with your name? Whether you’re a lover of this chain or a staunch critic, you’re probably curious to know if this custom is simply a way to not mix up orders, or if it holds another meaning. Of course it does – after all, it’s Starbucks!
The Starbucks myth and the mystery of the signed cups.
Founded in Seattle in 1971, Starbucks is today the largest coffee chain in the world with nearly 28,000 cafes in 74 countries as of 2018. Its logo, a siren from Greek mythology, is now recognized in every corner of the planet. And it’s nearly impossible to escape the iconic image of their coffee cup with the green and white logo, which makes regular appearances in movies and series, from “The Terminal” to “Shrek 2”, and including “Game of Thrones”.
Every move and action of this company is watched by millions of eyes around the world. Thanks to well-executed marketing and undeniable visual consistency, Starbucks has managed to make millions of people eager not only to taste their coffee but also to immortalize the moment with a photo of their cup, bearing their name written by the cafe’s employees.
And here we are, at the heart of our subject, why does Starbucks sign its cups? Is it a crucial component of the sale, a marketing ploy, or simply a way to not mix up orders?
Let’s remember that we’re talking about Starbucks, and here, nothing is left to chance.
Meeting the psyche and the subconscious.
Let’s picture a small scene. Ask yourself this: do you have a favorite mug at home or at the office? Of course, you do! We all have one. Even if your cupboard is overflowing with mugs, you still always prefer your old, slightly chipped one. Maybe you associate it with childhood memories, or perhaps it was a gift from a loved one? Whatever the reason, every sip just tastes better in that mug, doesn’t it?
And it’s precisely on this quirk that Starbucks specialists decided to put our first names on their cups. In this way, we, the customers, feel like we’re drinking our coffee in our “own” mug. This subconscious factor sends signals to our brain associating the coffee with something even more delicious than it already is.
Here’s an advertisement video released by Starbucks when they initiated the personalization of the cups by adding names in the UK, highlighting the purpose behind this innovation.
The theater of wacky names on the cups.
Over the years, the tradition of signing the cups has led to an unexpected array of names written on the recycled cardboard of Starbucks around the world. Some baristas indeed allow themselves a certain creative freedom, giving rise to rather colorful stories.
Take, for instance, Bartholomé, a young regular who delights not only in his daily Mocha Frappuccino but also in discovering each day under which new identity he will be served. The names have transformed from Bart to Barth and even Batman, much to the delight of our protagonist who eagerly awaits each new interpretation of his name.
Or consider Sophie, a university professor who was renamed “Soso the Philosopher” one morning, a little joke by the barista aware of her profession. Since then, Sophie’s classroom has come alive with more engaging debates than ever, adding an unexpected touch of joy to her daily teaching routine.
And what about the couple who, ordering two lattes on Valentine’s Day, were served cups named “Romeo” and “Juliet”? A delightful touch that made the lovebirds smile and which fueled their romantic exchanges for many weeks after the event.
These interactions, swinging between humor and affection, weave a special bond between the staff and the customers. They create a unique universe where each cup becomes a personalized item, bearing a story that’s often funny, sometimes touching, but always unique. Each visit to Starbucks thus becomes a little adventure, where the simple act of ordering a coffee can lead to fun exchanges, surprises, and shared smiles, enriching the customer experience well beyond the taste of the coffee itself. By creating these spontaneous moments of connection and joy, Starbucks is not just selling a hot drink, but a warm experience, a morning smile, and often, a hefty dose of good vibes to go.
So, are you surprised to learn why Starbucks signs your cups? Far from being just a practice to avoid mix-ups, it’s an impressively deep marketing strategy that plays on our subconscious. And the best part is, it works wonders!