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May’s Brand Champion is Howard Schultz.

Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz is May’s Brand Champion for his commitment to the ideals of his business and brand.

As far as brand leaders go, it’s hard to find many more successful than Mr. Schultz. He built Starbucks from only eleven stores to the worldwide coffee chain that it now is, but it is his insistence on upholding company values that truly sets him, and his company, apart.

In 2008, after returning to the helm of a quickly sinking Starbucks,  Schultz did something unprecedented–he closed over 7,000 Starbucks locations for three hours, in order to retrain their baristas on “pouring the perfect shot of espresso.” Starbucks lost millions of dollars in sales and labor costs and risked a major fall in stock, but the company came through with higher customer satisfaction rates and a return to sustainable growth.

This last week, Starbucks made a similar statement. They closed their now 8,000 stores for an entire afternoon to retrain their partners on what they’re calling “anti-bias training,” in response to a racial incident at one of their Philadelphia locations.

Both decisions were met with skepticism from newsagents and customers alike. The decisions lost Starbucks tangible business and revenue, but both decisions reflect a sense of ethical ownership that sets Starbucks’s brand apart. By taking accountability for something that shouldn’t have been ignored, especially by a corporation so large, Starbucks has secured a kind of loyalty that goes beyond the product. They have taken negative attention and turned it into an example of their commitment to the customer and doing the right thing.

Mr. Schultz pushed that envelope even further by releasing an open letter to all Starbucks customers, transparently outlining their decision to close the stores and their reasoning for it. In a cordial and intimate tone, he connected to every single customer and communicated to them their own importance without being condescending or patronizing.

Howard Schultz is a Brand Champion for many reasons but Brand Iron recognizes him this May for his unwavering commitment to the consistency and dependability of his company’s message. It’s easy to talk the talk but real brand loyalty comes from walking the walk, and Howard Schultz is putting on a masterclass.

7 Secrets of a Brand Champion and Brand Champion 100 are part of the Brand Iron brand. Brand Iron is an outcome-focused brand marketing agency located in Denver, Colorado. Contact us today or visit brandiron.net to get started!

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