So far so good for Starbucks rebrand?

So Starbucks is no longer about coffee, it’s about the experience, it’s about the future – that’s what the logo evolution is all about apparently. Oh… that and the fact that Starbucks is about to increase its locations in China from around 400 to 1,500.

The Seattle-based coffee chain has dropped the words “Starbucks” and “coffee” from its 40-year-old logo. This is perhaps a necessary evolution in a world where coffee drinkers (I’m not one I should add!) are feeling the pinch of paying $5 for their caffeine fix.  The fact that a single Starbucks every day, plus maybe one to get you through the weekend, could have you spending over $1500 a year on coffee has made consumers realize that it may now be considered a luxury purchase rather than a necessity, and that’s where the ‘experience’ comes in and the need to future proof the brand.  Let me think… a family vacation or a coffee a day? You do the math!

Starbucks was a signifier of the success that the economy was enjoying early last decade. Those white cups and green straws were everywhere.  Millions of people of course still crave their daily ‘Cuppa Joe’ because caffeine is literally addictive.  But many ‘addicts’ can no longer can afford the luxury; that’s why the likes of Dunkin Donuts and McDonald’s with its McCafe line have seen rapid increases in coffee sales – In June 2010, McDonald’s reported that coffee sales were up 38%.  I’ve read articles where the writers wish that McDonald’s coffee was a little more expensive and didn’t taste quite as good, so they could return to Starbucks in good conscience.

So is this a smart move for Starbucks?  It’s always a good idea to make sure your logo is current, relevant and appropriate to the market place, and as such, I think this evolution is a good idea.  Who knows what the future holds for Starbucks? – As the CEO says in the video below, they will continue to be the world’s leading purveyor of high quality coffee, but from the outside looking in, we don’t know what else is over the horizon.  Is the business model of expensive coffee for the masses past its best?

Maybe, I guess it will depend on how well and how quickly the economy recovers.  If people continue to switch to and enjoy brands like McCafe, then it could be a long way back.  Starbucks will always have its advocates and loyal followers, and the expansion in Asia is sure to be profitable, but what could be the first Starbucks brand extension?  Removing the word coffee from their logo gives them all sorts of possibilities!

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