January 18, 2011

Starbucks Goes Bigger

On the heels of the new logo debut last week, Starbucks announced a new drink size for its iced beverages on Sunday. “Trenta” will be a 31oz size specifically for iced coffee, iced tea and iced tea lemonade drinks in the United States (read: Venti is still the largest you coffee addicts can get for your java fix).

In case you need a refresher, here’s the lineup of current Starbucks sizes:

Four sizes for hot beverages:
* Short (8oz)
* Tall (12oz)
* Grande (16oz)
* Venti (20oz)

Four sizes for cold beverages:
* Tall (12oz)
* Grande (16oz)
* Venti (24oz)
* Trenta (31 oz)

(Notice that the actual ounces are different between the Venti size in hot and cold beverages.)

So with discrepancies in size continuities across product lines, it’s a lesson in creating a strong brand strategy from the onset.

Customers have long questioned Starbucks’ naming strategy when it comes to their beverage sizes. It’s a challenge to retrain a population so familiar with “Small, Medium and Large.” Even I have to remind myself that it’s a TALL, not a SMALL, when ordering, but it’s also a very distinctive strategy that mimicked the brand experience they were evoking.

From a continuity perspective though, I’m not sure it makes the most sense.

Dictionary.com posed a nice question on this as well: if the names were created to relate to the actual product size, why not simply use the actual size? Studying the etymology of Starbucks size names, you’ll find that Grande is Italian for “large,” Venti is Italian for “twenty,” and Trenta means “thirty.” Tall lacks the panache of the other size names, but it’s still a part of their nomenclature. Venti translates nicely for a 20oz hot beverage, but not exactly for the cold beverages at 24oz, unless it means “twenty-ish.”

What do you think? Is Starbucks doing its customers a disservice by not having a more “mainstream” naming strategy? Or is that too, just a part of the brand experience?


  1. Beth Anne   January 19, 2011 11:15 am / Reply

    I think it’s just another part of their brand experience. You know that feeling when you’re in line and someone in front of you jumbles his/her order. Then, you step up confidently, as if part of an exclusive club, and spout out your order in the Starbucks approved order (decaf grande soy latte for me). It’s satisfying and makes you feel like you’re part of something.

  2. Jennifer   January 19, 2011 2:31 pm / Reply

    Personally, I don’t understand the logic behind same names/different ounces. Is it because their manufacturer didn’t have a 20oz cold cup? Is it because I need more room for melting ice? Is it because calling it a Large was too easy? I am not part of the “exclusive club” because I can never get the ordering straight. I just know I like the small vanilla latte, with an extra shot of vanilla. Or is it an extra pump?

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