Pearlfisher's Tess Wicksteed on iconic brand design


Returning to the FUSE stage this year is Tess Wicksteed, Strategy Director at Pearlfisher. This time she will be sharing the podium with Tom Barr, VP Coffee Design at Starbucks. Tess's series of blog posts will outline the key brand building principles that can evolve brands from exciting challengers to globally loved icons.

It’s easy to forget that in the beginning Starbucks was a challenger brand, paving the way for brands like Blue bottle and Stumptown. Starbucks started life on Pike Place in 1971 as the original coffee pioneer and over time has become the most iconic coffee company in the world. We love working with Starbucks for lots of reasons, but one of them is that they are such a textbook example of the philosophy at the heart of Pearlfisher. We believe that the brands that really matter are either Challengers or Icons, and that our job as brand builders is to create Challenger brands that later become Icons and to nurture Icons to ensure that they stay relevant.

Why do they matter more? Because they are not just selling you something you probably don't need, they stand for something - they engage in culture and strive to make it better. When Starbucks was founded, they were determined to change the American food industry: they were on a mission. There was a reason for them to exist - they embodied the emerging spirit of the age in a way no-one else did. They took the characteristics of their product and created a deeply motivating brand idea around it. Starbucks is about nurturing and inspiring the human spirit, which makes sense as coffee is both comforting (nurturing) and stimulating (inspiring).

So what are the principles that evolve brands from challengers to icons and give icons their enduring power? I will discuss these over my next blog posts. I hope you enjoy them!


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