Did Starbucks botch new logo?

Consumers aren't happy with the new look of Starbucks' low-priced brand Seattle's Best Coffee.

By InvestorPlace May 21, 2010 6:52AM

Seattle's Best logo. Credit: (© Starbucks)Starbucks (SBUX) made a splash recently with news that it would be focusing on its Seattle's Best Coffee brand in the coming months as a way to broaden its appeal to consumers who prefer a milder cup of java -- and a lower price point.

Unfortunately, it appears the coffee giant was too busy crunching numbers and not busy enough working on how to present the Seattle's Best brand. A recently redesigned logo is getting panned by the public, with a whopping 68% of consumers saying Starbucks should try again, a recent survey has found.


Derisive comments from bloggers about the logo include "Seattle's Best Blood Bank,"  among others.

Aesthetics aside, the biggest problem with the logo is the timing of the criticism. Seattle's Best is crucial to the success of Starbucks as part of its new mission to widen its sales beyond just pricey premium coffee. Post continues after video:

Recently Starbucks has launched a summer menu with new iced coffees and custom Frappucino drinks; the company has also made a concerted effort to boost its retail product line, including bottled drinks, ice cream and more, at grocery stores.


But without a low-priced coffee brand that connects with consumers, SBUX risks missing out on a large group of value-conscious caffeine junkies. Like it or not, the first experience many consumers are going to have with the brand is this logo.


Starbucks intends to expand the Seattle's Best brand to more than 30,000 locations by the end of the fiscal year, so it's important to make a good impression.

True, it's unlikely a good logo would make up for bad coffee, but with a rollout of this size a sales impact of just a few percentage points can really move the needle. With about $9 billion in annual sales currently, a drop of just 1% is a whopping $90 million.


PepsiCo (PEP) knows this well, as it is still taking heat from its short-lived redesign of Tropicana orange juice packaging in 2009. After less than two months and a 20% drop in sales, the company reverted back to the original logo and branding. Pepsi then botched another flagship product with its alteration of Gatorade (or "G" as it is currently called), as volume sales of the sports drink fell by 13.7% in the first quarter after the logo change.


Starbucks is sticking by the new Seattle's Best logo for now, but at a critical time for the brand, it had better pay attention to consumer tastes. That goes for the product packaging as well as how pleasing SBUX coffee is to the palate.

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