Starbucks is making some big moves with its brand portfolio, dramatically elevating the role of Seattle’s Best Coffee.
Executives at Starbucks first announced plans to dramatically expand Seattle’s Best and then rolled out a rebranding effort.
The expansion for Seattle’s Best is dramatic; executives are planning to reach 30,000 locations within a year, up from the current 3,000 locations. This increase will come from outlets such as Burger King, AMC Theatres and Borders. Seattle’s Best will also go after commercial coffee machines, those devices you sometimes see in an office that produce really terrible coffee..
The rebranding is even more dramatic. The old Seattle’s Best logo is gone, replaced by a modern, subtle and minimal look that is stylistically similar to the new Pepsi logo, the new Kraft Foods logo and the (terrible) Tropicanna logo.
Will this all work? It might. I can certainly see the objective here: growth. And I salute Starbucks for using a second brand to grow instead of further stretching and diluting the Starbucks brand.
The challenge is that Seattle’s Best is now becoming another fine but undifferentiated brand of mainstream coffee, a bit like Folgers and Maxwell House. And it is tough to command strong margins without some meaningful differentiation.
My prediction: Starbucks will succeed in building distribution for Seattle’s Best but profits won’t amount to much. If Starbucks the company does well it will be because Starbucks the brand does well.