For years now, Starbucks’s strongest asset has been its brand. The Starbucks logo has enabled the company to open coffee shops across the nation and the globe, with a promise of custom espresso drinks in a comfortable café. It may not be the world’s best coffee, but its name recognition and consistency have driven its success.
But now, some of its cafés are actually shedding the company image—still under corporate ownership, but dropping the Starbucks name. Last week, a Seattle Starbucks reopened as 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea
: a “local” coffee shop with its own, non-Starbucks vibe.
Gone are the Frappuccinos, plastic-wrapped foods, and familiar green logo; in are specialty coffees, French presses, dog-watering dish, rough wooden tables, and a beer and liquor license. Trying to give the café a “local” feel, there will be music nights and poetry readings, foods from nearby Pike Place Market, and individually sourced furniture.
Even before its opening, the café has drawn an enormous amount of media attention, and if the experiment is successful, Starbucks may follow with additional "local" cafés—first in Seattle, then in other markets.
Shameless marketing ploy, or genuinely smart idea? You decide.