In this blog post I am going to do a semiotic analysis of two different coffee brands. Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts are both well run café industries, but they connote different meanings. Dunkin Donuts’ theme colors are orange and pink and Starbucks’ colors are green and white. Pink is a color that commonly is known to symbolize nurture and sweetness while orange represents harvest and extrovert. These colors seem fitting for a coffee that is cheap and has a casual and quick environment to it. The color green represents growth and renewed energy while white symbolizes purity and high class. These colors may have been chosen to represent the company as a more high class way to “renew your energy”.
The average price of a medium hot coffee at Dunkin Donuts is somewhere in between $1.50 whereas the average price of a medium hot coffee at Starbucks is $1.95. Although this seems like not much of a difference, there is still room to question why Starbucks would charge any more than Dunkin Donuts. The answer is the difference in message between holding a coffee from Dunkin Donuts and holding a coffee from Starbucks. When we see a person with Dunkin Donuts the idea is a blue collar, average New Englander. A person drinking Starbucks would most often correlate with the image of a wealthier person, members of the business community, or a “hipster”. A person holding a cup of Dunkin Donuts is usually walking, driving, or working, while a person holding a cup of Starbucks is most often seen sitting in its café with their Mac laptop typing away in the pristine setting that is Starbucks.
A common saying that pairs up with Dunkin Donuts is what’s right on every cup. “What are you drinkin’?” Notice the casual sense of word choice here. Short, to the point, and casual, just like the everyday Dunks drinker. On the Starbucks website there are words like rare, smooth, elegant, etc. Dunkin Donuts focuses on flavor options while Starbucks focuses on the coffee blends and styling. A person who works at Starbucks is called a “barista” while a person who works at Dunkin Donuts is called a crew member. You starting to see the difference? This is why Dunkin Donuts flourishes in New England, because New Englanders have a profound middle class status and respect for the blue collar. Starbucks is a more international sensation, because it creates an image of high class and worth that is universal throughout this consumerist, power driven planet.