Howard Schultz

Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of creative branding and merchandising consultancy IER Partners. For 20+ years, Andrea’s joy has been inspiring clients with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She’s the author of two books about brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants and ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators. You may reach her at

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

The problem with implicit bias is you don’t know what you’ve done until you see the public reaction. Starbucks, Dove and Heineken leaders can all attest to this unconscious offense, which affects the marketers’ brand reputation and its customers’ experience. But Starbucks is taking a larger step to remedy both problems than previous marketers have done.

Coffee giant Starbucks and tech payment company Square announced a new partnership starting this fall that will bring Square's credit card payment technology into 7,000 Starbucks locations in the U.S. Under the deal, Square will process Starbucks U.S. credit and debit card transactions, Starbucks will invest $25 million in Square. Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz will join Square's board of directors. The Square Directory will also integrate with Starbucks’ digital platforms to help customers locate Starbucks and other Square businesses in their vicinity.

When Peggy and I moved to Center City Philadelphia nearly 20 years ago, around the block from our 1817 row house was a typical, tacky pizza shop on the corner of Fourth St. and raffish South St. Every morning when I walked the dog in the area, discarded pizza crusts and paper waste were all over the sidewalk and in the gutter. The dog was in hog heaven; I found it disgusting.
Suddenly the pizza shop was replaced by Starbucks. I was thrilled. Good coffee and terrific snacks. The enthusiastic young baristas (clerks who make coffee) are up and at ‘em at 4:45 a.m. preparing for the 5:30 opening. And the place is always clean and tidy. For 16 years, Starbucks has been a great neighbor and presumably profitable.

Many years ago, Seattle direct marketing guru Bob Hacker took Peggy and me on a sightseeing tour of his city and we stopped for a requisite cuppa Joe at Starbucks’ first store at the Pike’s Place Market. I felt part of American corporate history.

In Madrid several years ago, I was delighted to spy the Starbucks logo just down the street where I could bring a couple of coffees back to the room well before our out-of-the-way hotel dining room opened for breakfast.

At the Starbucks down the street from our hotel in Geneva, two small coffees, two blueberry muffins and a small bottle of orange juice was a whopping US$27.50, but hey! the little muffins were loaded with juicy blueberries and it was all lots cheaper than the US$3 per person continental breakfast at the hotel.

In fact, just about anywhere in the world, Starbucks is a welcome sight.

Now suddenly Starbucks’ has decided to change its logo. It is deleting the word “STARBUCKS,” deleting the word “COFFEE” and being represented by a naked green cartoony mermaid with a Miss America tiara and two fish tails.

Will she become the Nike Swoosh of world-class coffee?

I don’t think so.

“If it ain’t broke,” said Jimmy Carter’s budget guy Bert Lance, “don’t fix it.”

Good advice.

When was the last time you took your brand on a holiday? A real, live "getaway from it all" pause for refreshment and renewal? I don't mean the annual rah-rah sales meeting or the obligatory management off-site. I mean a true time-out.

Let me say at the outset that I have no idea who I will vote for in the general election. Being a committed Independent, I will not be voting in the Pennsylvania primary on April 22. As of March 27, the candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are dead even in the opinion polls. The candidates are beginning to hammer each other, freeing John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, to act, look and sound presidential on the national and international stage. If strong action is not taken to break the logjam, this internecine scrap will go down to the convention in August

Bear Stearns strayed from its core business. Powered by greed, the firm got into creating indecipherably complex investment funds designed to cover the tracks of indecipherably complex consumer home loan contracts. Nobody understood this stuff. Not Bear Stearns’ managing directors, not the sales people hawking this fatuous crap. Not the greedy investors that saw obscene returns. Not the original mortgage lenders. And certainly not the dodos who got way in over their heads borrowing to buy homes by signing adjustable rate mortgage contracts that sucked them dry. But hey, if I was a renter and was offered a $220,000 loan to buy a

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