Dunkin Donuts vs Starbucks

Dunkin Donuts vs. Starbucks – Festive Branding Fiasco

It’s the holiday season, and everyone is in the mood to celebrate, including you and moi. It’s the time of the year when we can don crazy turkey hats, and wear red boots with shimmery dresses. Even big brands know that – they decorate their store windows, churn out deals and discounts, and not to mention, change their branding to resonate the festive season. Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks have done just that. Check them out:

Festive Starbucks vs Dunkin Donuts Branding

They seem innocuous enough; pretty festive I would say. But wait a minute!

Before you jump onto the branding bandwagon and change all your branding materials into reds and greens, you need to understand branding fiascos happen, and when they occur, they can bring your brand down rather than up. Branding fiascos, whether for the holiday or otherwise, happen because of several reasons:

Being Politically Correct

Yes, this happens even in the 21st century, not because you are not careful but because there are too many brand police out there ready with their snipe comments to bring down your brand. The bigger and known brand, the more police around with their social media guns ready.

Starbucks got fried recently just because they were politically incorrect in their approach to holiday season branding. All the ruckus is about how a global company like Starbucks simply assumes that everyone is not celebrating (or celebrating) Christmas. This campaign is discriminatory, bias, and religiously unfair. And if you don’t believe it, check these tweets about Starbucks when they launched their holiday season’s minimalist campaign.





Being sure of the target market

To ensure that you know exactly what you are doing, consider how important this exercise of branding is for your business. Will it bring hordes of sales? Will it just perk up interests? Or will it just be another marketing activity that you want to adopt because big brands are doing it? Identify the signs for redesigning your brand identity before you go ahead. Dunkin Donuts has been clever in this regard. They have got all the symbols to go with their holiday season campaign but they have not made the wrong assumption as Starbucks had done. They know exactly who target market is and how their target market will receive the simple word “joy” on their branding. Check their cups and judge for yourself.




You need to research & plan your holiday branding

Needless to say, branding is simple as understanding the psychology of your market before and now. Identifying the need, rather than going with the flow. Planning for the holidays starts with research. In recent years for example there is a trend of rising online shoppers, and the best way to target them is to bring them onboard to your website rather than investing in store front or print marketing materials. Having said that, it doesn’t mean you forgo it completely. Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts being consumer brands have to invest in packaging design as these are the representation of their brands.

Even so, avoid a branding fiasco by concentrating on building relationships with your customers which count during the holiday season. Your branding strategy for the holiday should coincide with how many people will respond to the same sentiments as you or your business have. And to ensure that you are on the same page, find out more about it before planning a branding strategy.

In the case of Starbucks, it’s not as much about the red cups but about the assumption that everyone will not celebrate Christmas. Being globally correct but neglect the locals has hurt their brand. Perhaps if they’d followed Dunkin Donuts style, they would have been more successful. Personally, I liked the red and minimalist style. Coffee anyone?

Janil Jean is an idealist blogger and social media addict who loves conversations related to branding, storytelling, startups and small business technology and design.

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