Aligning Two Red Threads
Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks have very different audiences but, as big brands, they have something in common: constancy. Their entire experience revolves around where their Red Thread and their audience’s Red Thread align. Both deliver coffee, but you’d never mistake one for the other because their customers have different Goals.
Dunkin Donuts is pretty straightforward: they’re known for coffee, donuts, and one-handed snacks. That’s because their perspective is that coffee is fuel— it’s the critical element of your morning routine. Therefore, they focus on speed, consistency, and reliability to market to the people who need their coffee to start their day.
Contrast that with someone who enjoys the “break” part of a coffee break: the chance to relax and savor a nice mug of java in a space apart from the home or office. It’s pretty easy to guess that this person is headed to Starbucks, not Dunkin Donuts, because of their comfy chairs, welcoming ambiance, and tasty snacks.
In both these examples, you can see a brand that has figured out how to align its Red Thread with that of its audience. They’ve created a constancy that keeps their customers coming back again and again.
- Starbucks Vs. Dunkin’: Business Models Compared
- Subscribe to Find the Red Thread on YouTube
- The Red Thread Weekend
- The Red Thread Worksheet
– The Red Thread is all about flexibility and adaptability. At the same time, it’s about constancy. When might that be helpful? When we’re trying to figure out why and how people tie into big brands. I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com and that’s what we’re talking about this week on Find the Red Thread.
How do you figure out what ties you to a brand and why should you care? Well, I want to argue you should care because that tells you a lot about how to build even tighter connections and how to engage other people who aren’t connected to you yet. Now, that all happens because of what the Red Thread represents. It represents this operating system that we have. It explains and makes the connection between how we see the world and what we do in it. It explains why we do what we do the way that we do it. And it’s true, as we’ve talked about before, for both companies and individuals. So we’re trying to figure out how companies and individuals connect. We just need to find the Red Threads of both.
Now we’ve talked before about how to find the Red Thread of your company. A lot of times it can be helpful to start with the products and services and differentiators, that’s the Actions, and then back up to say, what’s the customer goal? What’s the perspective that we take on that goal?
What’s the belief that we have, the idea that we have about that perspective that is uniquely us or really important to us? How does that explain why we represent a change in the marketplace, which then makes those products and services that we figured out first make sense? Figure that piece out.
And then we do the same thing for customers: What are they looking for? What’s the perspective that they’re taking? What’s an important perspective for them? What would be a perspective that’s resonant for them? What a belief about that perspective or about that goal that we also share? Which means, what does that mean that they’re looking for? What would make them change from their current deliverer of that goal? What would make them change to you? Or why are you a representative of what they’re looking for? Now that makes sense.
Okay, why do your products and services make sense and it might even give you opportunities to think about new products and services that would match them even better. So, let’s take an example that we’re probably all familiar with to really look at how this might be the case. Dunkin’ Donuts.
Now, the Dunkin’ Donuts products and services are pretty straight forward. They’ve got coffee. They’ve got, you know, there’s some tea, but mostly people know them for coffee, for donuts, and for one-handed snacks. Now, why would customers care about that?
Well, let’s look at it from the coffee perspective first of all. Well, because they want their, they want their coffee in the morning, right? Now what’s Dunkin’ Donuts’ perspective on that that really represents what they, how they look at that morning coffee? And Dunkin’ Donuts, I would argue, really represents the perspective that coffee isn’t just part of the morning routine, it’s on the critical path of that routine. That coffee needs to be delivered the way a customer expects, when a customer expects, in the time a customer expects in order for the rest of their customer’s day to go the way they want it to.
Why? Well, that’s where the idea comes in. Because Dunkin’s believes, this is their Idea, that “coffee is fuel.” And because coffee is fuel, it explains why it’s on the critical path of the routine and why that’s so important to be considered when we’re trying to give people their coffee in the morning. Now all of that taken together represents the Change that Dunkin’ has in the marketplace, which is a focus on speed and reliability, consistency, so that people know exactly what they’re going to get in the time they’re going to get it which leads to all the things that you see in their stores. One-handed foods, hard surfaces that don’t suggest, that don’t encourage people hanging around, drive-throughs, things like that.
Now, think about how all the places line up with the individuals for whom all of those things make sense. You can picture in your mind, can’t you, somebody wants their morning coffee, for whom coffee, because they, like Dunkin’ believe it’s fuel, that nothing can go wrong with getting that coffee in the morning, which is why they value the speed, reliability, and consistency of Dunkin’, which is why they really enjoy, or at least tolerate, the way that Dunkin’ operates and moves and looks. Because it suits their perspective. It suits how they see the world.
Now contrast that with somebody who says, “Yeah, I want my morning coffee, but getting the break of the coffee, the ‘break’ in a coffee break is just as important as the coffee itself,” for whom the experience of that break actually makes them enjoy the coffee more. Well, they’re going to look for a very different experience.
They’re going to look for something that provides a break from either their home routine or their office routine. They’re going to look for, huh, maybe a “third place,” which makes them sound an awful lot like a Starbucks customer and I would argue that is a Starbucks customer. And that explains why all the things, the products, services, and approaches that Starbucks has makes more sense to their customers. They have squishy chairs that do encourage you to sit around. They play music. They’ve got snacks that you can linger over and that you can have conversations over. They provide WiFi so you’ll stay there and work.
See, by understanding the Red Thread of you and the Red Thread of your customers, you can find those opportunities for connection. You can find those opportunities to find the tie, the Red Thread tie, that binds people to your brand. I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com. If you’re looking to find the Red Thread of you or your company, contact me at tamsenwebster.com/contact or go to findyourredthread.com.