Building A Brand So Strong That There Is No Need For Hype

Originally, I wanted to write a blog about brands that build hype and do it well. But then I thought to myself how it’s much more interesting to ponder the brands that have so much power and brand equity that they don’t even have to build hype. That’s the PSL.

You’re my kind of people if you know what PSL means. PSL = Pumpkin Spice Latte… Yes, the most sought-after Starbucks drink to exist. You might think it’s too early for this, but apparently, it’s never too early for Starbucks! Launched in 2003, this yummy, seasonal, piece of fall in a cup just found its way back to the menu this Tuesday, the earliest it’s ever been released! And yes, I did find my way to the drive-thru window Tuesday afternoon just to order one.

Here’s the story of my very tiny journey to the PSL on Tuesday afternoon.

  1. I’ve been craving it all year long.
  2. I received one email notification the morning of that Starbucks had just released their most popular beverage.
  3. I drove to pick one up.

Notice anything?! Usually before a product releases, there is at least some sort of hype. Especially for a drink this popular! But Starbucks knows their loyal audience. Starbucks decided “Nah, we don’t need all of that this year. Just a quick email to our customers will do… We’ll let our menu and the media do the talking.” Sure enough. The PSL landed itself across tons of headlines… More than pictured, of course.


It appears the brand did the following to announce the comeback of their iconic beverage:

  • Announced the release date to media three weeks ago.
  • Sent one email on the day it released.
  • Posted once on social media the day it was released saying “The fall is so close you can hear it.” with a number to a hotline that plays all sorts of typical fall sounds including a hayride, a walk through a fall day with crunching leaves, etc. They couldn’t resist plugging the PSL!
  • Knew they could count on the media to spread the word.

Oh, and just to take it back to the top, the brand is so strong that the name of the drink has been reduced down to just three letters for internet fodder! Go on, give it a Google search.

Starbucks knows its worth because of social listening. They hear their audience. They see the memes, and they understand that hype is already built all year long. Since Tuesday, the brand has retweeted and shared some of their favorite posts sharing their customers’ love for the seasonal drink. Some even say it’s officially fall when Starbucks cracks out the PSL. Since when does a company decide the seasons?! I guess when you’re Starbucks and you’ve got that much power attached to your brand, anything is possible. You just might see the Peppermint Mocha on the menu before Halloween!

Jennifer Mabes

Jennifer has a unique skill set with experience in B2B and B2C marketing, public relations, social media and graphic design. Applying a holistic view of marketing, she supports clients on all fronts from digital marketing to publicity and media relations, events and serves as a liaison between our internal creative department and our account/digital teams to ensure clients’ brands and key messages resonate across all platforms. A graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, she’s also the voice behind the agency’s social media accounts.