The Friendly Reason Starbucks Writes Your Name On The Cup

We've all been there — picking up an oat milk latte from Starbucks only to find that your name has been comically misspelled. If your name is Jacob, don't be surprised to find that your barista spelled it Jakob. Despite Starbucks baristas frequently misspelling their customers' names, the practice of writing customers' names on their coffees is closely tied to the brand, but why? 

It didn't become a practice until 2012 when it became the standard for Starbucks employees to pen the name of their customers on their drinks. Baristas also started wearing name tags as well. According to Starbucks, the company established the practice as a way to form a connection between baristas and customers. It was part of a rebranding of sorts for the coffee chain to appear more personable among its customers as a quaint and intimate space. It was also a successful marketing tactic by Starbucks. 

According to My Digital Insight, Starbucks' first name basis helped the chain stand out from its competitors and foster a channel of two-way communication. It also helped customers feel a sense of ownership, which quickly became an organic part of Starbucks' ethos. 

Starbucks customers feel a personal connection

Overall, Starbucks has been successful at creating a personal relationship between its local stores and its customers. As part of the #whatsyourname campaign, having the chance to share their name with someone became empowering for transgender and non-binary customers. One transgender customer, Cairo, said that although Starbucks spelled their name wrong the first time, it gave them a place to express their true identity. They said, "I remember feeling like on cloud nine, getting my name on the cup."

Likewise, other Starbucks customers have shared that it helps them feel connected to their local Starbucks baristas. For instance, one Redditor wrote that they were on a first-name basis with their local barista thanks to the practice. On the other end of the counter, one Redditor who claims to be a Starbucks employee wrote, "Sometimes when I'm really stressed out at work and a customer catches on, they'll say 'Hi [my name] how are you?' or 'thank you [my name]!' And it makes me really happy!" 

That being said, not everyone is a fan of Starbucks' first name policy as some customers reported finding it creepy or the practice catching them off guard. However, it's hard to argue that the practice isn't ingrained in the Starbucks brand, with misspelled names and all.