Is it time for Starbucks to get on board by co-creating with Millennials?
Previously, we’ve written about how brands such as J.Crew and the British supermarket chain Waitrose have embraced co-creation by working with kids to design a new line of clothing or a food product label. Now, this past summer, attorney Steve Baird explained in his “DuetsBlog: Collaborations in Creativity & the Law” how his Millennial-aged daughter’s passion for coffee has led her to design Starbucks logo T-shirts that she wears “like a free and flattering traveling human billboard for the brand.”
More interestingly, beyond the T-shirts, Baird said that his daughter also has coined an endearing nickname for the coffee chain: Starbae.
That trendy moniker led Baird to wonder whether Starbucks should get out ahead of things and embrace fan-driven nicknames such as Starbae by officially adopting them as part of the company’s brand.
(For those unaware, “Bae” has entered the 21st century lexicon as a term of endearment, often referring to one’s boyfriend or girlfriend, or simply to label something as cool.)
Now, if Starbucks were to bring “Starbae” under its greater brand umbrella – and the nickname surely would have to move well beyond a single tween’s lingo for that to happen – the coffee giant wouldn’t be the first company to do so. McDonald’s, for example, has long embraced “Mickey D’s,” the casual nickname that some patrons use to refer to fast-food chain, and has even incorporated it into its branding.
In this era of social media, hashtags and text messaging where slang can potentially catch on quickly and spread like wildfire, the bigger question is whether this twist on co-creation is something that brands should pay closer attention to and consider as a new way to connect with Millennials. Should they leverage the language that the younger crowd is using to refer to their companies?
Geoff Gower, executive creative director of ais London, wrote in The Guardian that, “By giving Millennials the opportunity to co-create, you’re automatically encouraging brand loyalty. By becoming directly involved with a brand, they gain a feeling of influence and control, while seeing that their input actually matters – thus this encourages them to continue to engage.”
Gower went on to point out how Millennials are consistently producing content for their peers to consume and share, and that the trick for marketers is to harness some of that ingenuity. That’s true. And while “Starbae” may not catch on as a widespread reference to Starbucks, some other co-created brand nickname just might in the future.
If it does, companies should consider how they could make the most out of it. After all, when people ask, “What’s in a name?” the answer could be: “A lot.”
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