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June 16, 2017

Great Expectations

Mmm, coffee.

As many longtime readers know, I am an avid coffee drinker. I am also originally from the Boston area. Put the two together and you’d be right to assume I have an inordinate love of Dunkin’ Donuts. Alas, I have I lived without since moving to the west coast, as, until recently, Dunkin’ Donuts were more rare in California than a traffic-free commute.

However, those beautiful orange and pink signs have begun popping up across the Southland, establishing a beachhead in places such as Hollywood Boulevard and Atwater Village.

So it was with great expectations that I finally walked into one such location and ordered my old usual: a medium coffee, regular. I paid for my drink, retrieved it from the counter, took a sip… and nearly spit the brew all over the floor. Besides being, surprisingly, lukewarm, it was also black.

For those who are used to Starbucks or Coffee Bean and their crafty concoctions of syrup or powder, concentrated coffee and ice, it might come as a surprise to learn that Dunkin’ Donuts still traditionally serves java the old fashioned way, with cream and sugar. And while Starbucks has its own, Italian-inspired terminology to learn when placing an order, in Dunkin-speak, a “regular” has nothing to do with the caffeine level of your coffee. Indeed, ordering a “medium coffee, regular” means you’d like three creams and three sugars added to your brew.

Based on my first sip, however, this was not something that had been communicated to the west coast employees of my favorite coffee chain.

We’ve talked a bit about brands and branding in this space (and if you’re interested in a deeper exploration of your brand, check out our Creative service offerings and portfolio), often in terms of concrete elements such as a logo or a tagline. But the reality is, a brand is much more than cleverly crafted words or a color palette. A brand is an experience, from the layout of your store to how an employee greets or serves you. Simply put, a brand is the way a company chooses to do business. Indeed, great brands set themselves apart by mastering the art of providing a consistently excellent experience to all of their customers.

No matter which coast we’re on.

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