Really good brands often display remarkable resilience to the depredations of those who do not understand what makes a great brand, and from time to time, one is resurrected by insight and hard work.

I am not a gardener, but the most appropriate metaphor appears to be a gardening one,  someone who “really understands” comes in and heavily prunes the almost dead roses to the exact size and shape necessary for renewal, and come the spring, a newly vigorous plant arrives.

Such a resurrection has been evident in the Starbucks chain of coffee shops. Founder Howard Shultz re-emerged from retirement as CEO after the management that followed him stuffed a great business, did some radical pruning, and Starbucks is now again a great business, whatever you may think about their coffee. 

In England a few years ago, there was a Starbucks on every corner in the West end, and the coffee was rubbish, to be avoided, but the near death corporate experience has renewed the chain in the UK, perhaps requiring a revisit next time.

It takes a very strong leader to acknowledge the mistakes of the past that led to the weakening of a brand, and usually there are many mistakes, often small and logical when viewed in isolation, but profound when seen as a whole. This leaked memo from Shultz is such an acknowledgement, and served as the “burning platform” from which the changes to rebuild the Starbucks brand could be launched.