Can I get a Double Ristretto Venti Half-Soy Nonfat Decaf Organic Chocolate Upside Down Double Blended Coffee, please?

You might wonder what this weird accumulation of words means.

No, this is not a line from 50 Cents new rap song.

No, this is not the password of Bill Gate’s secret safe.

The Double Ristretto Venti Half-Soy Nonfat Decaf Organic Chocolate Brownie Iced Vanilla Double-Shot Gingerbread Frappuccino Extra Hot With Foam Whipped Cream Upside Down Double Blended, One Sweet’N Low and One Nutrasweet, and Ice is the longest possible order you could ever (and ever and ever) order at Starbucks. That drink does not only have a name that’s way longer than Lindsay Lohan’s longest time being sober (which admittedly is not that difficult), it’s also an indicator for the newest trend companies follow: teaching the customers how to speak their corporate language!

Starbucks-ish – connecting people from all over the world since 1791

It all began when Starbucks, an initially small coffee house chain which was founded in 1971, was able to attract more and more customers with their tasty products, including brewed coffee, espresso-based hot and cold drinks, snacks as well as sweet pastries. The company has been expanding rapidly, transforming from a small business to a world-wide known coffee house and reaching customers in 19555 different locations nowadays. Starbucks is the visualization of the American Dream, but how does that explain the introduction of its own language?

Anne Morriss, author of Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business, has developed an interesting theory. She states that Starbucks had a huge problem when an increasing number of customers were coming up every single day. The majority of them used their own vocabulary to order a drink which is the reason why it took longer and longer for employees to communicate that order to their colleagues. “Very quickly, that process was eroding the service experience due to the longer lines”, claims Morris in an interview with The Harvard Business Manager. Therefore the company came up with a rather inconvenient concept: they didn’t start to train the employees – they started to train the customer.

If you ask me Morris’ theory is quite truthful but I believe that there is more to add. The one thing that a consumer desires is to feel special and extraordinary. So the more extraordinary the order, the more special a customer will feel. Apart from that the name of a product is a very essential aspect since it doesn’t only appeal to our eyes, but also to our taste buds and other senses. A “Raspberry Passion Tea Lemonade” sounds reasonably tastier than just hot water with juice.

To be honest, we have no other choice than to learn a company’s vocabulary because if not, nobody at the shop will understand what we ordered and that would only make the 50 people behind us in the queue wait even longer.

So thanks to that, Starbucks is known for a special system of ordering and funny coffee names that are recognized all over the world. You could probably mention the term “Java Chip Chocolate Frappucchino” to someone in India and instantly get a dreamy “Hmm… Yummy!” as a response. However do we really want that? Does that really make consumption easier and more benefiting?

I think I need a dictionary!

As a matter of fact there have already been complaints from many customers, especially those of older age, that all the product names are very confusing and that they only make the purchasing process more complicated. In addition customers in non-English speaking countries often wonder why it is necessary to only use English product names.

Another example that shows the downside of “corporate language” would be the McDonalds case in 2011. Back then McDonalds tried to upgrade its image as the poster child for low-wage jobs by redefining the term “McJob”. Now I can definitely work with “Java Chip Chocolate” but “McJob”?! Even crazier: the term can be found on various online dictionaries now. One of them is Merriam-Webster.

So what do you think about customer’s language training and corporate lingo? Do you think it’s a good marketing strategy or do all the long names make your head hurt?

I for once will stop here, because all the talk about drinks has made me thirsty, so I’m going to make me a cup of hot coffee now.

Black with a spoon full of sugar.

Just how I like it.


If this blogpost has made you curious about Anne Moriss and her view on the issue, check out that video: