Starbucks have done some pretty interesting things with their brand in the last few years.
I remember reading Naomi Klein‘s powerful and iconic book ‘No Logo’ a good few years ago. In that book, she named and shamed Starbucks as one of the main corporate aggressors in the continued pummeling of independent coffee shops.
Fast forward a few years and it seemed like Starbuck were on the run – struggling in the increasingly competitive space in the UK and their ubiquity seemingly becoming a noose around their neck. They even launched a range of unbranded coffee shops as part of their bid to mitigate the corporate beast tag.
Interesting, then to see the latest iteration of the Starbucks brand…
The brand has developed over time (as does pretty much every major brand) and this latest iteration has completely dropped the word coffee from the brand. Of course, it’s all in the application and I’d be very interested to see how this one rolls out. But it’s quite dramatic in my opinion – clearly they have big plans for the brand and it’s not just in the coffee arena.
I’ve seen Starbucks moving increasingly in the retail arena and suspect this is the main reason: brand extension and where else might we bring the powerful Starbucks brand to bear? I’m not entirely convinced the brand has enough of the right kind of equity to stretch into other areas beyond food and beverage, but I’ll be following its progress avidly.
Interesting to see that the launch of the new brand was via webcast to barista, at least they got that right – launch to the key internal audiences first.
On reflection, I do feel like it’s the kind of brand development that will get the brand pundits twittering endlessly and probably leave the consumer shrugging their shoulders, wondering what the fuss was about. It does look like a logical evolution and I’m sure the surrounding visual identity will make a lot of sense of it.
Interesting to compare this approach with the complete mess Gap made of their ill-fated rebrand and backtrack last year.
The Starbucks brand has been around for 40 years and on this evidence, they look to be moving with the times, carefully nurturing their hard-won brand equity and staying relevant to their customers in 2011 and beyond.