Thursday, July 16, 2009

The new un-Starbucks

Starbucks has announced that it is launching a new concept - a cafe that will serve beer and wine in addition to coffee and tea. While the concept of serving wine and beer at a cafe isn't innovative - the Europeans have been doing this for centuries, what is interesting, however, is that Starbucks is launching a chain of un-branded cafes. The pilot cafe will simply be called the "15th Avenue Coffee and Tea shop" - a rather neighbourly if generic name. Starbucks plans on launching a couple more of these cafes - one assumes using neighbourhood descriptors.

And this from Starbucks - lauded the world round as the king of the branded experience. The very same Starbucks whose green dot logo is worth billions.

Hmmm. Can you brand and create intrinsic value from a look or experience without a logo? Can you create a chain of cafes without a common name? If there were no more logos, what would Naomi Klein call her next book? (OK, just kidding)

What do you think about Starbucks new move?


  1. Actually this is a very smart Starbucks move :)
    They will not come with a logo, but they will certainly come with some brand rules...

    here's a nice starbucks logo collection >>

  2. I don't get it. Unless Starbucks marketers just believe that "Starbucks = coffee" and are breaking away from the brand to accommodate beer/wine, then it would seem that in this economy and with competitive attacks from McDonald's and others - that they should be investing in their brand and the brand experience now more than ever. Beyond that, if the business decision is to expand the menu - then why not leverage the brand that they've built instead of ignore it?

  3. Interesting move...I can understand the inclination to get away from the "big" brand and expand into something that has a more local feel. In general, there seems to be a continuous ebb and flow between consumers wanting a consistent and predictable high-quality experience versus something that feels more distinctive and personalized (i.e. the favorite locally-owned shops). I am inclined to say that Starbucks is trying to tap into the latter sentiment.

    I can see this new venture working if Starbucks does their homework on each site/neighborhood and builds spaces - and businesses - that truly respond to their context.

    (As an aside, this is my first visit to your blog - very interesting and well done!)

  4. Hey Camille, Michael and "Logoblink",

    Welcome and thanks for leaving your thoughts at "the orange"

    And some diverse thoughts these are. I can't help agreeing with Michael on his point of focus. Is this yet another distraction....?

    On the other hand, I also like the idea that they are trying something different - after all - how many more Starbucks can they open in the U.S.?

    As I very conveniently live in Seattle, I'll track their progress.


  5. I am not a marketing or advertising expert by profession, but I love reading about marketing and design for fun. I also love coffee, wine, beer, and Starbucks. (All of the makings of this idea.) I personally think it's genius, particularly if this neighborhood joint has a very casual, coffee house feel. (I also think they need to make their Wi-Fi free, a la Panera) Countless times I've wanted to find a casual location where I could sit and get some work done with a beverage sexier and more potent than a cuppa coffee. :)

  6. Starbucks is making a lot of great changes lately; after years of drifting, they seem to be back on track.

    Let's hope this new energy is able to carry fresh thinking in projects like the cafe-concept.