The Real Reason you’re addicted to Starbucks isn’t Their Coffee

Why Starbucks’ “The First Sip Feeling” is Perfect Brand Copy

Grande Cafe Latte, half-caff, extra hot. I go specifically to Starbucks to get coffee when I don’t make it at home.  With the amount of money I spend on Starbucks weekly, I’m probably putting someone’s kid through college.

And it’s not even because I find their coffee that incredible. To me, lattes are lattes.

But I keep going back. 

Why?

Because of “That first sip feeling.”

Brand Copy Creates Powerful Associations

Brand copy is a unique type of copywriting in that its intention isn’t to push for a sale––it’s more about the experiential aspect of a brand. 

This type of copywriting focuses on the feeling, the vibe, a presence. The audiences that view brand copy might not make a purchase right away. It might not even be next week or next month, but the customer will seek out the brand when they want to seek out that type of experience.

Think of the advertisements you’ve seen in magazines for luxury brands or airlines with a simple slogan and compelling imagery. Think of liquor brands on billboards or banner ads with images of exotic locations and a powerful sentence or two. They draw you in, but there’s not a specific call to action other than to just want the product. And you want it.

That’s brand copy.

And in the case of Starbucks’ memorable slogan “That first sip feeling,” it drives desire while remaining accessible to a broader audience.

So, Why is “That First Sip Feeling” So Powerful?

This strategic slogan is on every Starbucks cup, placed there to associate a pleasurable emotion with your coffee. 

And because of the emotions tied in with that piece of copy, I think about that first sip feeling between Starbucks trips.

Because it elicits something specific for me: comfort.

Even if I’m not looking directly at the cup when I take my sips of coffee, I’ve read the side of the cup before. It’s crawled into my subconscious, creating positive associations with their brand

Now, when I want to feel really good about buying a cup of coffee, I go to Starbucks. Even if I could probably pay off my house with my monthly Starbucks bill and should really scale back, I keep going.

That’s exactly what “That first sip feeling” is designed to do.

It seeps into your psyche. It compels you to act. It magnetizes you to something, making you feel like a specific product or service is something that is going to improve the quality of my life.

Let’s take a deeper look at why the Starbucks tagline is so alluring.

“That first sip feeling.” 

It’s open-ended. It doesn’t tell you exactly what “That first sip feeling” does for you; it lets your brain make those associations on its own. How you do that depends on how you feel about your coffee.

What do you associate your cup of coffee with?

Productivity?

Happiness?

Warmth?

Motivation?

Relaxation?

Satisfaction?

Whatever that is for you, “That first sip feeling” immediately elicits that feeling for Starbucks’ ideal audience: people who want to experience coffee.

Not to mention, of course, the highly addictive nature of caffeine, which just bolsters the power of “That first sip feeling.”  I’m of the thought that Starbucks is, quite literally, a global power.

Emotion is The Direct Line to Your Customer’s Wallet

No purchasing decision is without emotion. Even the least-sexy purchases like paper clips have some emotional drive behind them. 

Maybe it’s because the least-expensive option helps us feel more secure with the money we’ve saved. Maybe we simply like the look of brightly colored paper clips.

You don’t need those bright yellow paper clips when the standard silver-colored ones will do the job.

You don’t need a $2000 per month apartment when a $450 room rental will suffice for your survival. 

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on designer clothing when you can find clothing that serves its intended purpose (protection from the elements and indecent exposure) for far less.

And you don’t need to spend $5 on a cup of coffee when you can just as well make your own coffee at home for virtually pennies.

Starbucks and its “That first sip feeling” tagline have capitalized on the need to feel pleasure even with what we consider necessities. 

Combine that with the fact that how we take our coffee is highly personalized.

How many times has someone asked you how you take your coffee? Probably countless. And you also probably have something specific in mind. 

Black. two tablespoons of sugar and a splash of milk. Half-and-half with sweetener. Decaf with oat milk. Whatever it is, at some point, it became your coffee

Because of the intimate nature of people’s relationship with their coffee, “That first sip feeling” becomes synonymous with exactly what you want. And with Starbucks, it’s done for you. 

“That first sip feeling” becomes the feeling you want, with something that you need (or at least really like) done for you, and — because of the nature of Starbucks —  quickly. 

“That first sip feeling” encapsulates the brand. Exactly what you want. Exactly when you want it. Feeling exactly how you want to

“That First Sip” Feeling is an Entire Experience

“That first sip feeling” has become an entire experience that motivates you to purchase Starbucks coffee over others.

And that is exactly what wildly effective copy does.

You should aim to write copy that holds this same power.

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