As a coffee lover and admitted coffee snob, I've followed the trials, successes and tribulations of Starbucks for many a year, both from the inside as a patron, and the outside as a curious follower of brand trends. As an NPR article notes (Starbucks Shuns Name At New Cafe), the Seattle based coffee behemoth recently opened a "new kind of store" in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood that gives nary a hint of its ownership, save for the beans used to make the coffee.
Note the missing and iconic Starbucks logo out front. In it's place, a sign stating "15th AVE COFFEE & TEA". From the article:
For more than three decades Starbucks has been building a brand, spreading its name around the globe. Now the company is setting aside that corporate image as it tries to create a store with the vibe of an independent neighborhood cafe.
"We'll be handcrafting beverages, using French presses and traditional espresso machines," says D. Major Cohen, the cafe's project manager.
Customers can grab and go, or sit in this spare and sophisticated space that looks and feels more like a wine bar than a coffee shop. And the menu is also different, including wine and beer along with cheese platters and other fare.
The new concept is a "re-imagination" of Starbucks, Cohen says.
This is an intriguing move by Starbucks, born out of CEO Howard Schultz's proclamation back in January, 2008 that the company he started needed to "return to its roots" (see ConsumerPassion post: Starbucks Announces Return to its Roots). The question that begs asking: does Starbucks need to ditch its name and all hit of its brand to pull off that much needed return? My answer is no. I think you can bring back the neighborhood coffeehouse essence without masquerading as a mom and pop neighborhood cafe. What's your opinion?