Starbucks serves up new dress code

— Jennie Miller, WE 

Self-expression is something we all strive to display through our OOTD (outfit of the day), hair color and that new-new pair of shoes from the Nordy’s sale we just HAD to have. If you’re a Starbucks barista, your opportunity to express yourself on the daily just became a reality. That’s right, the mega-popular coffee chain just announced its new dress code, complete with a lookbook to guide employees on what their uniform can be. Never fear, the iconic green apron will still be an outfit staple, but there are some changes.  

SO WHAT, you ask?

You might be wondering how an employee dress code can help increase brand loyalty — and it’s a fair question. To some, a major brand loosening the reins on its dress code feels like it’s shining a beacon of light on being old school. It is 2016, after all. But, it’s the ultimate juxtaposition by putting it out there: Starbucks is a brand that gives its employees choice through self-expression and evolves with the more modern workforce.

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Starbucks)

Starbucks is no stranger to the unexpected campaign, whether it’s changing up its red cups at holiday season or diving into a national conversation about race relations. People can debate the effectiveness of the campaigns, but the coffee giant remains a pioneer in embracing surprise to drive customer loyalty — and, of course, media coverage.

When brands tap into a cultural trend and combine it with the mantra of “people first,” great stories evolve and resonate with audiences. Consumers want to connect with a brand that makes them a priority, ahead of the next big product launch. There’s also the key ingredient of engineering surprise and delight by doing something unexpected. Starbucks is back at it, driving a positive perception for the brand by encouraging baristas throughout the nation to express themselves through the clothes they wear.

YOU get a Star Reward

Because we’re professional communicators, it’s always fun to take a step back to overanalyze the strategy and how Starbucks came about it. (Plus, we’re good at it!) There’s something to be said about the access to imagery combined with the provided voices from its partners (Starbucks lingo for employees) and key company executives who were involved in the decision-making process.

The combination of these tactics make it easy for media to translate the wardrobe change into widespread coverage that spanned key business and lifestyle publications including Fortune, TIME, Washington Post, Huffington Post and ABC News, and spilled into crossover consumer publications like HelloGiggles, Buzzfeed, E! Online, Refinery29, Cosmopolitan Magazine and Glamour.

 If you ask me how it makes me feel about Starbucks as a brand right now, I’d say, “I like that a latte.”