Brand Evolution: The Innovative New Starbucks Coffee Hut

All things PR, Marketing, Personal Writing

Some of the top and best-known brands and companies are also the longest lasting ones. Take Coca-Cola for instance. Introduced in 1886, the soda fountain drink is now one of the most universally recognized brands in the world.

Interbrand, one of the world’s largest global brand consulting firm, releases an annual report of the 100 best global brands and Coca-Cola has consistently topped the list every year since the report’s introduction in 2001.

So how does a brand survive that long? During World War II, the PR pros at Coca-Cola positioned the soda as THE patriotic beverage for GI’s fighting abroad and Americans on the home front. Committed to brand building, the Coca-Cola cornered the beverage market long ago and continues to be successful. According to Interbrand’s Global CEO Jez Frampton, “Coca-Cola continues to be successful because its brands are about head and heart.”

Another beverage company that is near and dear to my heart, and more in line with my caffeine preferences, is the premier gourmet coffee chain Starbucks. Like Coca-Cola, Starbucks has also cornered its coffee and espresso-based beverages markets, though by means of establishing its reputation of convenience for consumers and the concept of a coffee house as a main community gathering point.

Having achieved the role of market leader and establishing the community coffee house mentality in the U.S., Starbucks now has the job of holding onto that lead and further growing their brand. There are only so many stores that Starbucks can open up before it over saturates the market and its stores lose profitability, so the company had to get creative.

In this article from Co.Design, Fast Company’s business, innovation and design website, Starbuck’s president of global development, Arthur Rubinfeld, identified the neighborhood-level demand for premium coffee. The people at Starbucks came together and conceptualized an innovative opportunity for the premium coffee company to continue growing: modern, modular walk-up shops and drive-thrus that look like architectural works of art.

Starbucks’ new smaller store concept, located in Denver, Colorado.

However, the coffee company’s “pilot program” building models won’t just be fancy architectural designs nestled into local towns. Tying in with the company’s Shared Planet Initiative, its flagship coffee hut is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design)-certified and all future pilot program stores will follow suit.

“Once that connection to our mission statement, our soul if you will, was established, that became the go-forward design foundation for our stores, along with one additional very important element, and that is being locally relevant,” Rubinfeld said.

Senior Concept Design Manager Anthony Perez envisions these stores, much like the one pictured above in Denver, as high-end structures made from local materials (sourced from within a 500-mile radius, per the LEED Green Building Certification System).

Starbucks’ innovative initiatives show that the company is listening to the needs of coffee drinkers and predicting their desires ahead of time. With these individualized buildings, each store will be a unique and environmentally responsible addition to the communities, and Starbucks is investing in its relationship and reputation with the community as a place to gather and connect. The company’s new concepts are paving the way for continued success at its mission of inspiring and nurturing “the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”

With that, I leave you all with a Starbucks “Secret Menu” of frapuccinos and a fun infographic about the global scale of the coffee company.