Check out this article on a new phenomenon called “local-washing”. Similar to green-washing where companies claim to be organic or sustainable, it seems that stemming from the backbone of sustainability, large corporations are laying claim to be “local” with deceiving tactics. Boo, big man.
Here’s a strong example (and let me caveat this with my love for coffee): Starbucks has recently begun unbranding their locations. Imagine that! In Seattle, 3 locations are being completely renovated and re-opened under new names, the first of which is called “15th Avenue Coffee and Tea”.
Does anyone think this is insane?
Technically, and business-mindedly, it makes sense. Companies work very hard to become or to produce a “brand” which carries it’s own personality and ultimately an affinity with a consumer audience. Becoming recognizable signified a trusted brand whose products or services had an expected performance. Think about how you might run to the GAP for a new white t-shirt when you spill coffee on yourself at work because you know exactly what you’re getting.
NOW, it seems that large corporate brand names are actually canabalizing their own product by nature of being mass-producing sustainability outliers in the eyes of green-minded liberals (mind you, a good amount of the general public probably doesn’t care).
From one perspective, it is a glorious thing that these companies are recognizing their impact and trying to do something about it. However, faking it does not count! This is business 101 – be transparent with your customers.
The sad part is, I’m thinking to myself, there’s no way I would know if I was at an unbranded Starbucks location. I would think I found a cool new coffee shop that was off the beaten path and probably hit it up daily.
I’ve already been theoretically duped. Bummer.