Coffee & Cafe Brand Starbucks Innovate with Brilliant Brand Story Telling

retail branding

The Brand Story on Coffee
For many brands, understanding the most powerful element of their story is something they spend little time conceiving, let alone communicating. Global coffee and cafe brand Starbucks have once again demonstrated that they understand the value to their business of creating powerful brand experiences that are driven from the heart of their brand story, literally.

Starbucks have launched a pop-up coffee shop on Tokyo they call the ‘Starbucks Espresso Journey’ where customers and coffee lovers can learn more about lattes, cappuccinos, cafe mochas and coffee of any kind. The bold brand gesture aims at absolutely underscoring Starbucks’ coffee heritage, expertise and authenticity. Whilst upstairs looks and feels like any other Starbucks flagship stores, the space down stairs is where the magic happens. Designed to feel like a library, the walls of the space are filled with rows of bookshelves, the books created by Starbucks in nine shades of caffeine, each book telling the story of a different espresso beverage. Customers browse the library, learning more about the coffee and espresso products Starbucks offer, and are then able to trade the book for a coffee of their choice.

The retail brand concept was the work of Japanese studio Nendo who began with the idea of the relationship between coffee and reading – fusing that thought into a pop-up space that combined the two elements.

A Fresh Approach to Global Branding
One of the things I admire most about Starbucks, is that as a global brand they break the mold of uber consistency. Most of the big globals take a heavy brand management approach, setting a global consistency standard that protects the brand from being undermined and eroded through inconsistent execution of the product and experience. Starbucks take a sophisticated approach which combines global consistency for standard stores with a creative and innovative approach to flagship and pop-up expressions of the brand. This allows them to manage those brand experiences that depart from the Starbucks code with specific focus, providing the brand a constant stream of fresh and interesting activities in many of their key markets. It also allows for those expressions to be culturally relevant – the stripped back aesthetic of the Tokyo pop-up store is a beautiful fit for Starbucks within the context of japan’s retail brand landscape. Further this model of brand management allows for R&D prototyping – providing a stage for the business to try-out innovations in different markets and give them a real-life ‘sniff test’. This hybrid approach to keeping a global brand fresh and authentic has become a key aspect of the Starbucks brand strategy and an important differentiator in the many markets they compete.

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A great looking retail facade positions the Starbucks Espresso Journey as ‘not just another Starbucks store’.

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The stripped-back interior has more of a feel of a coffee lab than a coffee store.

The colour palette of the interior from floor to walls, furniture and book spines gives the sense of walking through a giant latte.

Every aspect of the brand experience has been designed with care and attention to detail.

If you’re thinking; ‘I can really see the value of connecting with my brand story’, but need a hand in making it happen – why not give us a call, we’d be more than happy to show you the way.

Dave Ansett
Chief Cre­ator of Brands

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Book and cup design images © hiroshi iwasaki
Retail space images © daici ano

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