Whether it’s an update to your wardrobe, technology, or personal life, we are all due for an upgrade at some point; and the same goes for multimillion dollar brands. So how do top brands update, or better known in the industry as, “rebrand”? Look no further then the ever-popular Starbucks Coffee Company. Starbucks recently hit its 40-year anniversary— you could call this a sort of mid-life crisis, but in a positive, non-sports-car-purchasing kind of way. If you visit the coffee chain on the regular you may have already noticed it. If not, it’s time to be filled in.
Starbucks first started by changing its logo; because the company is well known by the green mermaid-esque woman anyways, they removed the “Starbucks coffee” around the rim of the logo. Though one small detail for Starbucks, it was one big step in its visual rebranding efforts. The next is a tad larger-scale, with the marketing team launching the “La Boulange” process. Not only does this change a few menu items, it changes the entire feel of the original Starbucks setting. Starbucks said “Ciao!” to the Italian Espresso bar-feel, and “Bonjour!” to the chic and simple French sit-down bakery,. Though switching from Italian to French may seems like a miniscule foreign swap, it was a lot of work for the brand.
The “La Boulange” idea came from a local bakery in the San Francisco area and was purchased by Starbucks for $100 million. Not only did this change bring new menu items, but it also introduced a new color to us that Starbucks has never used: pink. Starbucks now uses feminine, light pink pastry bags giving more of the romantic and chic French feel. They also upped the design ante on their cups, with whimsical swirls, and… hold your gold cards tight you Starbucks-aholics…yes, they changed the color of its ever pop-cultured green straw to lime-green. For some people this is just a mere change in color, but for Starbucks and their masses this is HUGE. The brand became so idolized in the pop-culture world in recent years that it became synonymous and easily recognizable for its dark green straws and plain plastic cups. So why the sudden change in design? They want to look luxurious, after all, the average coffee order there is $3-$7, so why not sip the designer coffee in a well-designed cup?
Rebranding is a tricky thing to do and takes time. Starbucks didn’t just change overnight, in fact, they are probably still in the process of completing their new look. Successful rebranding takes an intense amount of research from armies of marketing specialists and focus groups of average, everyday people to give their honest opinion about new, upcoming ideas. Even deciding to change the color of a straw takes countless meetings. When done right, rebranding can be the best thing for a company. It can take their mediocre numbers to skyrocketing digits. One struggle brands have with rebranding is being concise with their brand voice. You have to really know your customers and be comfortable with them before you begin rebranding. Your customers also have to be able to trust you. To trust that you are not only doing the right thing, but if you are removing their favorite drink, snack or product, it’s because you are replacing it with something better. Nowadays, customers get attached to products and services and in the midst of any rebranding efforts; sometimes companies don’t see that and end up losing their most loyal followers. No, you can’t keep everyone happy, but you can keep them intrigued.