Does your credit union have a “Starbucks Name”?

If by some miracle you have never had your name misspelled at Starbucks and are unfamiliar with this concept, Google “Starbucks name fail” and peruse the 2,390,000 results – including this. Parodies and articles have been shared by Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, and Buzzfeed – you can even visit the name generator at if you have some time to kill.

My name, Melina, is one they never get right, so I have a “Starbucks name” to avoid having to spell it and go through the “name dance” every time I want a chai tea latte. Unfortunately, my super simple alternative (middle) name has started getting questions now as well “Does Renee have one ‘e’ or two?” which defeats the purpose. The truth is, I don’t really care what name they write on the cup as long as I get the right drink. You know?

As someone who is in charge of branding, I couldn’t help but ask myself…why do they insist on writing names on cups (especially when they tend to call out the type of drink and not the name of the person anyway) when it clearly leaves such a bad taste in their customers’ mouths?

I am sure this started with the best of intentions. My guess is someone back at corporate decided that saying customer names would make the experience more personal. Maybe the intent was to have it feel more like a hometown coffee shop where everyone knows your name…but they are clearly missing the mark. Taking an extra minute to have me spell my name for you – before my caffeine is delivered to me – probably isn’t having the desired effect.

In having conversations with others about this, I have come to the conclusion that (like me) about 99% of the population doesn’t care what is written on the cup – they simply want the deliciousness inside. With all the parodies and Tumblr accounts dedicated to how ridiculous this is, I keep wondering…why do they keep insisting on doing this?

I see four possible explanations/mindsets:

  1. “Any publicity is good publicity and this keeps people talking about Starbucks”
  2. “We have been doing it for so long it would be hard to stop doing it now.”
  3. “The majority of people *love* this process and only a few complain about it.”
  4. They are actually keeping a tally of names somewhere for a secret project – maybe to start their own version of the “Share a Coke with _____” promotion.

If the actual reason is in line with any of these things, I would advise them to stop doing this, drop it from their memory, and roll on to a new technique.

Yes, this was a very long story to get to my point in asking you this: “What is your credit union’s ‘Starbucks name’ and how can you fix it?” If you know that your members complain about a particular thing you do – even if you think they should like it – it is probably doing you more harm than good. It is easy to rationalize away things like this with some of the explanations and mindsets above, but don’t get caught in this trap.

Challenge yourself to question what you are doing and what is not working. Then…do something about it! Your members will appreciate you more if you do.

Melina Palmer

Melina Palmer

Why do people say one thing and do another? What really drives behavior? How does the brain actually work – and how can we best communicate with it? What does that ... Web: Details