Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

It’s not just coffee. It’s… Find out how this company revolutionized people’s coffee-drinking experience! [Tuesdays: Return Driven Strategy]

February 13, 2023

Miles Everson’s Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more. 

A Note from Miles Everson

Have you read the book, “Driven”

Co-authored by Professor Joel Litman and Dr. Mark L. Frigo, the book revolves around Return Driven Strategy (RDS), a pyramid-shaped framework that has 11 tenets and 3 foundations. When applied properly to your business strategy, this framework can help you achieve wealth and value creation. 

We encourage you to read about RDS during your spare time. This offers lots of insights that will help you succeed in your business endeavors! 

Today, we’ll focus on the sixth tenet of the framework: Brand Offerings

Continue reading to know how one particular business effectively thrives and brands its offerings to millions of consumers around the world. 

Miles Everson
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute

Return Driven Strategy 

“One grande Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino for Jane!” 

Since 1971, Starbucks has established itself as an iconic, premium brand known for its quality coffee products, exceptional customer service, and unique marketing strategies. 

As the world’s largest coffeehouse chain, the brand has changed the way people drink coffee outside their homes and workplaces. In fact, the company is credited with inventing the concept of a “third place” between home and work, where people can unwind while savoring a cup of joe and contemplating the pleasant ambience. 

The “Starbucks Experience” 

Photo from Starbucks Stories

Starbucks’ marketing strategies are nothing short of a phenomenon. Since its inception, the company has witnessed significant international growth and gained a competitive advantage in establishing itself as an industry leader. 

However, it’s important to note that the brand didn’t simply achieve success overnight. 

Starbucks has also invested heavily in marketing and customer loyalty over the years to ensure the experience it brings is uniform across the globe. In other words, the brand doesn’t only sell coffee but also sells the “Starbucks experience.” 

What are some of the marketing strategies Starbucks uses to constantly attract customers? 

  1. Social Media Marketing 

Starbucks has established a social media culture that demonstrates the company’s commitment to consistency and innovation. Its social media accounts are known for its unique branding, interactive posts, and visually appealing content. 

What else? 

Starbucks’ social media content is reused across different platforms. Depending on the type of user, each platform shows a different type of content. This technique helps the company target a larger customer base. 

  1. Loyalty Programs 

Under the Starbucks Rewards Program, customers who buy the company’s products get “stars” that they can collect to avail a free coffee. The brand also gives customers bonus rewards like double star days, access to exclusive games and offers, and a free treat on their birthday. 

Starbucks believes loyalty is critical to business and marketing success. By making customers feel consistently happy and satisfied, the brand is able to build genuine and lasting relationships with them. 

Additionally, these loyal customers bring a broader network into Starbucks’ database! Through word of mouth, they allow for more customer interaction and wider reach. 

  1. Strategic Partnerships 

Throughout the years, Starbucks has collaborated with different organizations to build and expand its business in different countries. This includes partnerships with Barnes & Noble, Nestlé, PepsiCo, iTunes, and more. 

Starbucks reaps numerous economic benefits from these collaborations. This technique enables the brand to increase product awareness, expand its product portfolio, serve diverse market segments, and boost customer satisfaction. 

  1. In-store Marketing 

How would you describe a Starbucks store? 




Every Starbucks store is carefully designed to make people stay longer, purchase more, and visit repeatedly. Everything in the store—from lighting to the ordering counter—serves a specific purpose. 

This contributes to the achievement of the brand’s customer retention goals. The company also uses data collected from its store locations to do market research, compiling and evaluating various information on customer sales, behaviors, and preferences. 

Starbucks and Return Driven Strategy’s (RDS) Tenet 6 

According to Professor Joel Litman and Dr. Mark L. Frigo in the book, “Driven,” RDS’ Tenet 6 is about branding offerings. Here, proper branding activities build an indelible connection in the minds of consumers between their explicitly understood need and the offering that uniquely fulfills that need. 

In the case of Starbucks, the company is able to maintain a consistent branding at all times. Every message, every piece of branding and marketing collateral, and every aspect of the in-store design contribute to creating a distinct experience that becomes second nature to customers whenever they enter a Starbucks coffee shop. 

Because of that, the entire “Starbucks experience” is not just about customers getting their hands on their favorite cup of coffee; it’s also about enjoying the pleasant ambience of the place and the exceptional customer service demonstrated by the staff. 

We hope you learned a lot from today’s business case study! 

Always remember that successful branding doesn’t just occur in TV commercials, print ads, product labels, billboards, etc. The branding process is also psychological and occurs in the minds of customers. 

A bridge with strong foundations on both sides—the offering and the need—results in an exchange between a firm and its customers. This means ANYTHING that impacts a customer’s view about an offering is branding that offering. 

That explains why branding is crucial in a business’ process of ethically creating wealth. 

Stay tuned for more case studies related to RDS! 

(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.) 

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Tuesdays: Return Driven Strategy”

In the book, “Driven,” authors Professor Joel Litman and Dr. Mark L. Frigo said that the goal of every long-term successful business strategy should incorporate the combined necessity of “making the world a better place” and “getting wealthy.” 

That is why they created Return Driven Strategy and Career Driven Strategy―frameworks that were built to help leaders and professionals plan and evaluate businesses so they can also help others achieve their organizational goals and career goals. 

The frameworks describe the plans and actions that drive returns for anyone in an organization such as independent contractors, marketers, brand managers, communicators, and other people in any field. These actions lead to the creation of wealth and value for customers, employees, shareholders, and the society. 

Every Tuesday, we’ll highlight case studies, business strategies, tips, and insights related to Return Driven Strategy and Career Driven Strategy. 

In planning, building, or managing brands and businesses, these strategies, case studies, and guidelines will help you choose what specific actions to take and when to take them. 

Hope you found this week’s insights interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s “Return Driven Strategy!”


Kyle Yu 
Head of Marketing 
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities 
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