The Great "Amazon-ing" of Starbucks

What is it about huge companies and their need to “expand their services” to include everything under the sun? Remember when Amazon was just a site that sold books? Well, now Starbucks seems to be jumping into the manifest destiny pool. Not content to simply sell mediocre coffee on every block in the country, they appear to be gearing up for their own turbo powered world domination tour (as if they needed it). And it’s starting with, of all things, a redesign of the logo.

Starting in early 2011 Starbucks will unveil a new logo that jettisons the “Starbucks Coffee” type (and cute little stars) completely, and focuses entirely on the mermaid image. It seems like a strange move if you want to be the world’s biggest coffee chain. But when that’s exactly what you already are, I guess it’s too tempting to simply languish there. Also, if you read between the lines (and listen to CEO Howard Schultz’s spiel) it sounds pretty clear that the move was made to evolve the brand “beyond coffee.” The real question is: into what? They already sell a mean New York Times and a jaunty Christmas carol CD. What insidious new racket is Starbucks getting into next? Starbucks Airlines? Starbucks and Deluca? Starbucks Search Engine? I guess we’ll find out this year and I’m sure it will be a huge hit with the kids. But I  for one wouldn’t mind if instead of conquering the world, the planet’s mega brands decided to just focus on one thing and do it really really well.

9 thoughts on “The Great "Amazon-ing" of Starbucks

  1. Pingback: Starbucks Rediseñado. | Blog | ElTribal

  2. Business Unusual

    4 Words: Sell Your Starbucks Stock!
    They’re either desperate or stupid. When a company starts line-extensions off of their existing brand they confuse the market and dilute the brand – and revenues suffer.
    Are they going to try to sell pizza, music, vacatins blah blah blah?
    Starbucks = Luxury Coffee Experience. Period.
    You’re brand can only stand for 1 thing. Good example of a company with multiple products but different brands is Johnson & Johnson.

  3. Tess

    I agree with you entirely. The content of this article takes a hard left to be corporate-bashing when it should speak about the smart evolution of the brand and how it aligns with Starbucks’ business model. One of the reasons I don’t subscribe to design magazines anymore is that I was less and less impressed with the content I was getting for my money. Now I just skim them in the bookstore instead. I find much better content on small blogs these days and that is sad. A publication for the design community about design should really focus on design.
    I love the new design’s simplicity, the “green” (no pun intended) aspect of 1-color printing, the focus on the siren and the balance between negative and positive space in the refined mark are all working for Starbucks. They have a great in-house design team from what I have heard and they should be proud of this next step in the brand’s evolution.
    I can’t wait for my area to get one of the new stores! If you haven’t read about that yet here are a few links:
    I have no affiliation with Starbucks, USA Today or Print Magazine. I’m just a graphic designer that loves coffee and good branding.

  4. Tom

    I wish they did just one thing well too. Like coffee. Yeah, that’s it. Maybe they can try to do coffee well. Their’s is over-roasted, acidic crap. Let’s forget the logo and just make good coffee. But that’s not what corporate America is about, mediocrity and cool new logos. Sorry about the rant. I guess I just need a decent cup of coffee.

  5. Brian

    I would think a design site would have little more to say about the actual design than about their opinion on big corporations. We all have opinions, we look to Print for some real content and reason.
    Wish they would do one thing well? They didn’t become the biggest coffee company in the world by accident. Liking their coffee is an opinion, not a fact. The majority of the world apparently loves what they provide. I am not a coffee drinker myself, so I cannot comment on the taste, but I am sure it’s like any other beverage in the world, it’s all about personal preference.
    Starbucks has been “beyond coffee” for years now. They have had their own music label, and even released their own full length film. Smart brands evolve. It’s why Amazon is who they are, it’s why Nike has it’s foot in every door, it’s why FedEx is now Kinkos. When you are a public company you have others to answer to. If they don’t respond, they turn into a Blockbuster Video or Oldsmobile, they disappear. 
    It’s the same reason F+W Publications changed it’s name to F+W Media. They needed to expand their market, and they did, with magazines from “Comics Buyer Guide” to “Print” and by starting to branch off into web, and not just print.
    I agree that they don’t have to go and start an airline or anything extreme. But people were critical of them for trying VIA, their instant coffee. VIA turned out to be pretty successful. 
    Starbucks is a design savvy company that has a world-class design team (I think they were in HOW a few years back for top in-house design team). Design critiques, the process and how it will affect their brand moving forward is why we come to Print. 

  6. Jonathan

    An attempt at sneaky crowdsourcing I reckon. They figure that idle designers will be unable to resist the white space and scribble new logo designs around the symbol. Management will then retrieve them from the trash for evaluation & development.
    As you suggest, it would be something if they could figure out decent coffee. I hope at least that we have now seen the last of that offensive “geography is just a flavour” strapline, too…