The Controversial Rebrand Of Seattle's Best Coffee

Becca // May 20 // Insights



As marketers, we know how crucial a brand's reputation is, as well as what its consumers and potential consumers say about it. Many companies, including some of our own clients like Seaport Village, Beauty Encounter and Sushi, have gone through a rebrand to help reinvent the brand and/or reconnect with their target market(s).

When relaunching a brand, you can't just announce it to the world. You need to get out there and show people the new you; show them why you are better than ever. A lot of companies are doing this by pulling stunts or through street teams.

Seattle's Best Coffee is one of the newest companies to rebrand. They started with simplifying their logo, dramatically. Already, in just a week, this change has stirred up heated opinions. People have classified this new logo as looking like a bowl of cereal filled with tears or even worse, a blood donation center. It's crazy to see that after only one week, 68% of over 2,000 respondents said Seattle's Best should try again and produce a new logo. Wow! Let's hope this isn't as big of a disaster as it was when Tropicana rebranded a few years back. They had to ditch the new look and revert back to the original design. People need to learn that simplifying a logo isn't always the best way to go.

While the logo has been less well received, the way in which the company is getting the news out has proven quite popular. On May 12, brand relaunch day, the Seattle's Best "red-capped invaders" took over headquarters of Starbucks by replacing the signage at the very top of the clock tower with their new logo. As awesome as this is, it is likely that Starbucks gave them permission to do this since Seattle's Best was acquired by them in 2003. Still though, it's an awesome idea.

To relaunch the Seattle's Best Coffee brand in some of their biggest markets, Seattle and Portland, they placed big red refrigerators throughout the cities filled with ice-cold lattes and mochas. Genius! This simple idea has caused a buzz both online and off. It also shows the public that just because your look has changed, your great taste and price hasn't changed. I know I would be quite intrigued by seeing a giant red fridge in the middle of the street -- nothing written on the outside explaining what it is, and to open it up and find free coffee in it, especially from Seattle's Best. I would be ecstatic.

These are just a few ways that they have launched the new Seattle's Best brand out into the world. I'm curious to see the kind of response both the new logo and stunts get both from current consumers and potential consumers.

For me, if I am already a consumer of a particular brand, a rebrand probably won't stop me from continuing to purchase that item. The only thing that would make me swap would be if the price increased. Yet, if I wasn't already a consumer and a company rebranded with a new logo paired with these types of stunts, it would most definitely catch my eye. I would be willing to try the product, as long as the price was equal, or less, than what I was already paying.

How would you react to a change in the look of a product you've been buying for years? Would you all of a sudden steer clear of it and cause a backlash like people did with Tropicana, or would you embrace it and continue to purchase it? What about if this was a product you've never tried but heard of? Would you be enticed to try it?


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