Losing that Loving Feeling

When an organization really connects with people, something special happens. A bond forms. A mutual respect and admiration drives the relationship. The organization is driven by its passion to deliver its product and exceed all expectations.

It does it so well, people talk. And their friends make a connection. And they talk. And their friends connect. And it continues.

The organization grows and expands. Then they find themselves facing a difficult choice: seek to appeal to an even broader audience and reap tremendous rewards or stay true to your roots and forgo the potentially big payoff.

Starbucks chose the former. Eight years ago, I wrote a case study advocating for free Wi-Fi in their shops and a focus on a music partnership. They did some of it (my case study was not the reason why) as well as several other things that diluted who they were. They even went so far as to print out customers’ orders on stickers and put them on the cup where the baristas’ scribbles are supposed to go. That was the true sign that the end was near.

The news surrounding the number of pending store closures and associated layoffs, then, comes as no surprise. They broke their connection to their core audience. And while they had a good run, they lost track of who they were and are paying for those sins.

When faced with the opportunity to grow and expand, look closely at what that will do to your identity. Does it fall in line with who you are? Is it the natural evolution of your business? Or is it an attempt at the quick score? Are you diluting your brand and what it stands for?

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