26 Jun 2017

Scraps & Straws #3 Brand? Or Business? What’s more important?

Business or Brand? What’s more important?

You’re a start-up! You have a great idea, some willing partners and (fortunately) adequate funding. Now on to business.

As business trickles in and you grow (maybe slowly) and as the demands in your business grow and you are burning the candle at both ends you realise that if you do that much extra – you will do that much more business. And you’ll grow that much faster.

But what’s more important at this point? Your brand or your business?

What is the difference you ask? Isn’t it the same?

Let’s take an example from some very well-known brands.

Starbucks. While Starbuck’s business revolves around making and serving great coffee, the brand is about being that place between office and home.

The business ensures that coffee is ready, the brand ensures that people have a great experience. While one cannot exist without the other, the brand invariably must be larger than the business.


Here’s what happened as recently as May 2017 with Starbucks. Due to an overnight tech update that took longer than expected, their systems faced an outage across US and Canada and people were suddenly being turned away without their ‘morning Joe’. The trouble was not that they could not serve coffee, but that they were unable to bill for it. Cash was accepted but not many customers had cash.Here’s where brand won over business. It was decided that Starbuck would still give every customer their coffee. And not charge for it. Was it bad for the business? Well, clearly a monetary loss. Was it good for the brand? If you see the mileage they got through mentions on social media and if you read the tweets of loyal customers Starbucks emerged as a brand winner.


Full statement from Starbucks below:

As part of our normal course of business, overnight we worked to install a technology update to our store registers in the U.S. and Canada. A limited number of locations remain offline, and we are working swiftly to resume full operations in each of these stores. The stores will remain open during this time and, as always, our partners are prepared to take care of our customers to ensure they have the best experience possible. – Starbucks

In a nutshell, business happens in a day, a brand lives for a lifetime. Focus on business and it can make the cash register ring for a day, focus on Brand and win hearts for a lifetime.

Another example? Here’s a quick one closer home.

Closer home is the (now controversial) Flipkart. But back in the day when Flipkart had a crazy sale which went beyond expectations, one of the stories that caught people’s fancy was that the then Flipkart CEO Sachin Bansal was himself out making the deliveries.

What was important there? Business? Or brand. Your guess is as good as mine.

So, what are you building? Your brand or your business?

Check out the earlier posts in this series.

Scraps & Straws #2

Scraps & Straws

Relevant Links

Some Starbucks are suffering from a payment outage and giving out free coffee