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Simplifying Starbucks for 2023 | #BehindTheBrand

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Last month, Starbucks debuted a new look for its ready-to-drink portfolio in partnership with global brand transformation company Landor & Fitch following a two-year creative collaboration.

Starbucks identified an opportunity based on consumer insights which revealed the importance of small transitional moments throughout the day, with time-poor consumers looking for an uplift to keep them going.

From this, the brand set out to redefine the chilled coffee category it had originally helped create over 10 years ago and reassert its leading position with a refreshed design and a new uplifting brand campaign.

Landor & Fitch’s Insights & Analytics team analysed key drivers of brand equity growth and purchase intent using a sample of 2,500 ready-to-drink consumers across EMEA. The research empowered the new identity and campaign, which both celebrate the ‘in-between moments’ during a typical day, in line with the core brand promise to ‘uplift the everyday’.

From architecture to packaging, the redesign celebrates simplicity and vibrancy through the magnification of the Starbucks iconic brand assets.

To learn more, we caught up with Sarah Bustin, Design Director at Landor & Fitch and Charlotta Oldham, Marketing Director at EMEA at Starbucks, to go behind the rebrand.

What was the brief for the rebrand? (Charlotta)

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Starbucks is the original chilled coffee pioneer, but over time, the category was getting crowded, competitive and a bit samey. We needed to re-establish ourselves and ‘re-own the shelf again’. It was important for us to show that Starbucks is the expert and leader in all things coffee. 

This was our chance to bring this positively-charged product back to life through a 360 campaign. Together with Landor & Fitch, we recognised an opportunity based on consumer insights around the importance of small in-between moments throughout the day: time-poor consumers looking for an uplift to keep them going.  

How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go? (Sarah)

Our collaboration with Starbucks was two-fold. We already had an established relationship with Starbucks and became its global creative partner after participating in a global pitch! It was part of this work that the Starbucks EMEA region commissioned Landor & Fitch to relaunch its ready-to-drink portfolio. 

To ideate, we had to dig deep to uncover consumer insights and fully understand Starbucks' entire chilled coffee portfolio. Landor & Fitch’s Insights & Analytics team analysed key drivers of brand equity growth and purchase intent using a sample of 2,500 consumers across EMEA.

This research fuelled the new identity and campaign, which both celebrate the 'in-between moments' during a typical day, echoing the core brand promise to 'uplift the everyday'.

Describe the purpose of the brand (Charlotta)

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Starbucks is in the top most admired brands in the world (Fortune, 2022). We've spent 50 years creating an icon - as coffee experts, our coffeehouses create genuine moments of connection that uplift the everyday.

We bring this unique Starbucks Experience to life for every customer through all our coffee drinks via our unwavering commitment to excellence and trusted principles. 

What was your thinking behind the rebranding solution? (Sarah) 

We outlined and transformed the product architecture, benefits, and pillars by defining each occasion - whether our audience needs a coffee kick or a more indulgent moment, there's something for them. 

Using Starbucks’ renowned assets and through our 360-brand experience, we tell stories of in-between moments that uplift and inspire small moments of change - creating our idea: 'lift up the everyday'.

How does the new design enhance the brand and make it extraordinary? (Charlotta)

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Our new brand creative expressions meet consumers wherever they are – above the line, below the line, online – with whatever kind of uplift they need. The Starbucks Siren acts as a catalyst for change and guides consumers through the 360 journey, centring and bringing the drinks to life.

The new design has strengthened our brand offering, showcasing to consumers the benefits of each product and the experience of drinking them. 

Did you learn anything new during the project? (Sarah)

We learnt how to work together during the toughest of conditions, a global pandemic. We really pulled together as a team, using new technologies to produce a truly unique output that we are proud of. 

What was the biggest challenge? How did you overcome it? (Sarah)

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Progressing the project during the pandemic was the biggest challenge for us. For example, our TV commercial had to be directed over Teams in September 2021 due to pandemic restrictions and travel bans. T

o overcome this, the production team used live-action software; this involved directly sitting with the client on Teams, meaning they could see the advert being shot in real-time.

What kit/tools/software were used to create it? (Sarah)

For the TV commercial, we used a state-of-the-art robot called “The Bolt”. It was programmed to ensure the same position was used during reshoots - this was a great advantage, especially when the actors changed clothing but had to be in the same positions. The technology also aided dramatic transformations seen in the advert and allowed flexibility. 

What details are you most proud of and why? (Charlotta)

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We are particularly proud of the engagement figures for the relaunch. The relaunch went live across the EMEA region in Spring 2022, while the out-of-home campaign, TV advert, social videos and in-store POS launched in June 2022.

The TV spot aired on Channel 4, scoring above 90% for both short and long-term effectiveness among the key target audience group. In its first month, 80% of viewers were watching the advert in full on YouTube. It showed our work really grabbed the attention of consumers and that the challenges we had overcome during the pandemic were worth it. 

What visual influences fuelled your solution? (Sarah)

Our bespoke brand expression showcases the unique, dynamic feeling of each product: refreshing, indulging, a coffee with a kick and more. All while celebrating Starbucks’ world-famous assets to own the shelves, help consumers navigate their unique drinks, convey the product’s emotional benefit, and unite its portfolio.

What do you hope it achieves for the brand? (Charlotta)

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We want consumers to love us and feel deeply about our brand – and that means ensuring they appreciate our range of products to suit their different needs.

What would you do differently if you could do it over again? (Sarah)

Whilst the technology we used was brilliant, and everyone worked so hard to make it as smooth as possible, we would love to have the opportunity to shoot the TVC and stills in person with the crew.

Credit list for the work?

The creative work was led and handled solely by Landor & Fitch, with production by a WPP collaboration with Hogarth, supported by besweet. 

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