Across the world, Starbucks is known for fast coffee and the Starbucks brand. There corporate identity is as strong as any company world-wide. They are known for great coffee, lots of choices, and being fast. Their stores become known for being a great place to hang out and surf the web, write, and study. Most notably, however, is the green and white logo that is on every store, every cup, every bag of Starbucks brand coffee found in the isles of every grocery store.
But with the backlash against big companies like Starbucks taking over the simple things in life, Starbucks needed to make a change. Coffee and Corporate are words that most people do not like hear in the same sentence. The issue with Starbucks was never their quality of product. Even people that hate Starbucks, enjoy their coffee if they do not know that it is from Starbucks.
To change their corporate identity, the New York Times is reporting that Starbucks has opened stores that sell beer and wine, alongside their traditional coffee and tea. There is no Starbucks sign above the door. There is no Starbucks logo on any of the products. The shop names are not even Starbucks. They are named after whatever street they are on.
Why did they do this?
Starbucks is widely regarded as great coffee and fast coffee, but not cheap coffee. With the downturn in the economy, many people started to shy away from Starbucks as they recognized it as a luxury product. These people have not stopped buying cups of coffee on the way to work, but rather switched to “cheaper” options.
By changing their corporate identity, Starbucks has been able to grab a share of the market, that was out of reach until recently. Starbucks simultaneously has become luxury coffee and its cheaper alternative.
This change easily marks one of the biggest changes in corporate identity in recent history. More importantly one of the most successful. Next time you go down to “12th Street Coffee” to grab your daily Starbucks coffee alternative, you may not be grabbing an alternative at all.
Can you think of a better shift in corporate identity in the last 10 years?