Starbucks rebranding their stores?

The Independent reported that Starbucks are dropping the ‘identikit decor’ they have in store in favour of a more localised, less ‘corporate’ feel.

They currently use a beige and green colour pallet with matching furniture and signage.  In its place will be mis-matched (possibly) second hand furniture, notice boards with local news on and bolder colours which will lead to stores being more individualised.

The full story is available here

My view is that Starbucks are doing this to drop the ‘big bad corporate wolf’ image that they have (which I guess most people worked out for themselves) but I doubt whether this can ever really be achieved. For a company that is known for swallowing up pre-existing local coffee chains and putting them out of business, building a reputation as a local, quirky place that passers by will wander in to feeling it’s a home from home, is a big task. 

Maybe Starbucks is trying to differentiate itself further from Costa and Pret as big corporate brands? Maybe they are trying to come across as a chain that offers better value for money from your coffee? (I didn’t use the word ‘cheap’ there as we all know it’s not).  Maybe they are seeking a reputation as a firm that values CSR and local communities?

I think Starbucks is trying to be something it’s not but then marketing and branding can very much be about perceptions.

We all know why we go to Starbucks. It’s not for the taste of the coffee it’s all about the ‘potential’ this brand affords us with – the feeling of being special, of it being no big deal to pay £10 for a drink and a sandwich, of the ‘cool’ frappacino cup we carry round the shops half full. 

Do I think this change will be a success for Starbucks? Maybe. I think people buy into shabby chic and if Starbucks can acheive this it will only add to the brand’s already huge appeal. Good luck to them.


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