Seattle's Best Coffee turns 40 this year, and is marking the occasion with something of a renaissance -- or midlife crisis. The brand, which has been owned by Starbucks for the past seven years, has long been number two (ironic, given its name) to the ubiquitous green label. Now the company is taking a totally different approach, pitting Seattle's Best against other players, namely the fast-food giants that got into the premium coffee game fairly recently, such as McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts.
In order to effect this change, the newly positioned Seattle's Best has a stripped-down logo intended to "match [their] optimistic outlook and simplified approach" -- although some question whether the extreme simplicity moves into the realm of the generic. Tom Ehlers, a former Starbucks executive who is now vice president of retail for Seattle's Best, told The Wall Street Journal that Seattle's Best will be the Old Navy to Starbuck's Gap. Citing the jump in overall premium coffee sales (from 29 percent to 35 percent in three years, despite the recession), Ehlers points out that mass-market coffee is a sales gambit that has worked: "Regular people have found their way to great coffee."
Along with the new logo comes a new motto, also clearly designed to underscore the new democratic world of premium coffee: "Great Coffee Everywhere." And they do mean everywhere. The brand will soon be expanding to about 30,000 new sales venues, popping up at Burger King, Subway, and AMC movie theaters, among other places. In keeping with the mission to allow regular joes their cup o' joe, soon Seattle's Best will be available at convenience stores, drive-thru kiosks, coffee carts, even vending machines -- distinctly downmarket points of sale. But that seems to be part of point; Starbucks will stick with the gentrified crowd it's locked in so successfully, while Seattle's Best will try to appeal to -- well, everyone else.
We asked our Twitter followers and the people who "like" us on Facebook whether they found this new logo to be, in fact, appealing, and not a single person said with certainty that they preferred the new one. There were resounding cries that the new logo looks like "an oil company logo" (which no one wants to be thinking about right now)," a label for [generic brand] eye drops," and "a water conservation sticker in a German restroom along the autobahn." Our kindest follower said they preferred the old one, but accepted the new one as "more contemporary." With this sort of unanimous backlash, we wonder whether their expansion efforts will be counteracted?
Didn't have the chance to tell us what you think about the logo on Twitter or Facebook? Tell us in the comments!