How Misspelled Names On Starbucks Cups Skyrocketed The Chain

Starbucks began the now-familiar tradition of writing customers' names in black permanent marker on coffee cups in 2012. The intentional move was meant to recognize each customer as an individual, and baristas also began wearing their signature green aprons with name tags in an attempt to encourage personal connections and drum up conversations with visiting coffee lovers. Over the years, misspelled names and cheeky messages written on the takeaway cups have become not only lore but a kind of marketing campaign for the coffee company.

When a customer's name is rewritten or botched and the coffee shop customer posts a photo of the mistake on social feeds, the company benefits from visibility. At the time of writing this article, on Instagram alone, a series of accounts have devoted their grids to photos of erroneous names written on Starbucks cups. The hashtag #starbucksnamefail has amassed nearly 28,500 posts illustrating the trend, with customers sharing playful, humorous, and unique takes on name misspellings on cups taken out of stores around the world. That's a lot of free brand exposure!

Some mistakes work out well

While it might be tempting to come up with salacious theories surrounding some of the misspelled labels, let's face it: Baristas work hard, customers can be demanding, and the frequent hiss of a coffee machine can be loud. Though the narrative of a disgruntled coffee shop worker taking to the pen to let out pent-up frustration on the job is a fun one to consider, this type of situation is a comparatively infrequent and unlikely story. 

Hard-working Starbucks baristas are commonly faced with the task of making multiple drink recipes at one time, and any hesitation in an order can delay an entire line of coffee drinks. (This is why you may want to think twice before ordering certain Starbucks drinks, particularly during busy morning hours.) If you find that your name has been misspelled on your Caramel Ribbon Crunch Crème Frappuccino, take it in stride, and consider thanking your local barista for hustling drinks along for the line of waiting customers, instead. You can post photos to your socials once you get in the car.