It's ironic that Starbucks, the coffee chain that has been so focused on creating an iconic brand (when you see green straws, what do you immediately think of?), is now trying to steer away from the image that they've spent the last several decades perfecting.
They're experimenting with a coffee shop in Seattle, and if all goes well, it will slowly but surely expand across the country.
And wow, there are some major changes being done ...
First and foremost, the design. We can all agree that pretty much every Starbucks looks the same. You can look across the street at a store and know that it's a Starbucks without even glancing at the sign. I call that branding accomplishment. But after opening up thousands of these identical locations, now they're wanting their stores to look like they've been in the neighborhood for years, maintaining the personality of the local real estate so that it can compete with the more characteristic cafes that have been sipping away Starbucks' evening business (Starbucks receives 70% of its business before 2 p.m.). The inside is getting just as drastic of a makeover -- bar stools allow the patrons to sit close to the coffee, muted lighting gives ambiance during evening hours, tables sitting 15 people make group outings possible, and fireplaces and outdoor patios encourage business during the changing seasons.
Secondly, they are adding to their menu, more specifically wines, beer, and cheeses served on china plates. Oo la, la, la ... Starbucks is getting fancy.
As great as it sounds, I think Starbucks is too iconic to be hip. Part of why people go to Starbucks is because it's familiar and predictable; even when they're in a strange city, they can still spot out their favorite coffee chain and know exactly what they want. Changing that up and spending millions of dollars to do so, just to compete with the neighborhood cafes, sounds like a death sentence.
What do you think of the possible new look of Starbucks? Would you want to see this redesign in your hometown or do you think they shouldn't fix what ain't broken?
Image via Dimitri N./Flickr