Last week, the 360PR Book Club met to discuss our summer read, Onward by Howard Schultz. Schultz is Starbucks’ CEO and Onward chronicles the coffee behemoth’s journey from 2007-2010.
As big as Starbucks has grown (and one of the challenges Schultz and his management team has had to grapple with, especially as the economy hit a wall and some consumers pulled back on that $3 cup of coffee), Starbucks’ entrepreneurial spirit comes through loud and clear in this candid, behind-the-scenes look at high-profile launches like Via, Clover and Pike’s Place, the latter two signaling a return to Starbucks’ coffee roots.
Schultz writes about Starbucks’ falters with just as much ease as he discusses its success, from the unsuccessful introduction of Sorbetto, Starbucks’ version of sorbet, to the launch of MyStarbucksIdea.com, a lively online community for Starbucks customers.
This is a book for true brand-lovers – whether you’re a loyal Starbucks customer or not. Schultz dives in deep and discusses Starbucks’ brand essence, which centers on pouring the perfect shot of espresso and delivering a complete coffee sensory experience, from sounds to smells to, of course, taste.
But, perhaps the most important take-away is that Starbucks is not first and foremost a coffee company. “It is a people company that serves coffee,” as Schultz writes.
To Schultz, Starbucks is more than a career or a company. It’s family – from hand-written letters to partners (employees), meetings with executives held at his home, and his goal of “putting the customer at the center of everything” Starbucks does.
We give Onward a collective two thumbs up. Are you a coffee drinker? Are you loyal to a particular brew? Let us know in the comments!