Starbucks: Brand Brewing at a Creatively Caffeinated Company

FUSE Radio Explores How Creative and Brand Teams Walk Tightrope Together

By Marc Dresner, IIR

Particularly in large corporations, brand managers and strategists generally dictate creative execution, so you may be surprised to learn that this is not entirely the case at Starbucks.

While it’s difficult to think of the java giant as the artsy little coffee house it was in the early 70s—David has become the Goliath of Joe—Starbucks remains faithful to its rebellious roots.

This persistent blend of ingenuity and almost allergic aversion to convention has afforded Starbucks’ in-house creative organization a degree of latitude and influence not commonly found in corporate behemoths.

“Starbucks is still a very, very entrepreneurial company today despite the growth and retail footprint that we have globally,” said Daniele Monti, Creative Director for Starbucks’ Emerging Brands. “At the core, we're a very creative company.”

Daniele Monti, Starbucks
Among other things, Starbucks’ DNA has fostered an unusually collaborative approach to branding where the chicken-or-the-egg isn’t keeping anyone up any later than a cup of decaf might.

That said, Monti admits there’s a healthy tension between the business of branding and its creative expression; at Starbucks, it’s a tightrope walk.

“Letting the business completely drive the creative or letting the creative completely dictate the strategy are red flags that we often encounter,” Monti told FUSE Radio.

In this special podcast interview, we’ll take a closer look at what’s brewing at this unusually creatively caffeinated company, including:

• Opportunities, Challenges and Lessons Learned for In-House Creative Teams

• The Brand-Creative Balance: How to Collaborate Without Blurring Lines

• How Creative Can Help Grow a Brand from the Inside Out 

And much more…  

Editor’s note: Daniele Monti will present a case study—“The Re-Branding of Tazo Tea”—at FUSE 2013 taking place April 15-17 in Chicago.

For more information or to register, please visit

Marc Dresner is IIR USA's senior editor and special communication projects lead. He is the former executive editor of Research Business Report, a confidential newsletter for marketing, media and consumer research and insights professionals. He may be reached at Follow him @mdrezz.



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