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There is a legendary story about Starbucks, its brand, and toilet paper.

From within the offices of Starbucks, a branding guru had summarized the Starbucks brand into an extremely concise brand statement: A great coffee experience.

This brand statement encompassed the Starbucks store design, bean selection, barista personalities… even its toilet paper.

It seems that some smart guru hired by Starbucks wanted to downgrade from two-ply to one-ply toilet paper in store restrooms. He calculated a significant cost savings based on deep analysis of the comparative cost of toilet paper, the number of Starbuck stores, how many rolls per year were needed… and so on.

But Starbucks didn't agree, and the stores kept the thicker two-ply paper to preserve their "great coffee experience."

Quite literally, Starbucks was worried about all branding touchpoints.

A Touchy Subject

Your brand, as perceived by the only legitimate judges—your customers—is the sum of all their interactions with your company. Every place a customer can interact with your company is a touchpoint, and that touchpoint affects how you are perceived.

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Guy Smith is the founder of Silicon Strategies Marketing (www.SiliconStrat.com), a marketing firm that specializes in strategic marketing and market development for technology companies. Guy has a background as a technologist for NASA, McDonnell Douglas, and Circuit City and remains active in technology, primarily within the Open Source community.