I was quite surprised when I heard that soon there might not be a Starbucks. Why?! According to the article in The Seattle Times big coffee giant will be dropping the Starbucks name at their test location in Seattle. If the new approach is successful it will move to other markets. The new Starbucks will bear the name that reflects the neighborhood location like “15th Avenue Coffee & Tea” and will serve coffee, tea, wine and beer, and will feature live music and poetry readings. Yeah, you read it right… beer and wine at Starbucks. Like all the city has been missing was to have more bars.
I wouldn’t say that I am a big coffee drinker but I do enjoy a latte once in a while. The reason I like the Starbucks brand is for their atmosphere, image and their new non coffee drinks like Vivanno and Tazo teas. For me Starbucks is like wearing a Gucci dress as opposed to a dress off the high street, and who ever said ‘no’ to a Gucci dress?! I also like that the company is internationally recognized and has stores in 21 countries.
The reason behind this no branding idea is to increase foot traffic and sales, as the brand has been struggling in recent months because consumers cut out small luxuries to save money. Tim Pfeiffer, senior VP of global design said that the new names would give the stores “a community personality”.
But that’s not the only reason why Starbucks has been getting attention recently. Neighboring stores have reported that the giant has been stealing their identity and copying everything from the paint colour to the light fixtures. The Seattle Times reports that earlier last year a large group of Starbucks employees have been visiting nearby coffee shops with the signs that said “Observation”. Has the company hit rock bottom that they have to spy on others in order to succeed in this business or have their branding team run out of ideas? A spokeswoman for Starbucks, Anna Kim-Williams said “We’re continuing our commitment to delivering specialty coffee excellence while refreshing our store design with an amplified focus on local relevance. Ultimately, we hope customers will feel an enhanced sense of community and a deeper connection to our coffee heritage”.
Well, I hardly think that passing off someone’s signature look as your own is re-branding. The company might say all the right things but their actions make you question their intentions. Starbucks brand has been such a fundamental part of their success. According to the fan page on Facebook Starbucks has 3,679,096 fans and 259,075 Twitter followers. Do you think that loyal Starbucks fans will approve of this no branding, no logo approach? How do you feel about the tactics used by Starbucks in order to reinvent itself?
I personally would think before going to Starbucks if they were to roll out the new “community stores” across the country. I wouldn’t feel connected to the brand as each store will have their own neighborhood logo. But I guess only time will tell if this approach was worth it.