Starbucks sheds name for new face

Pedestrians walk by the flagship Starbucks store at Pike Place in Seattle, Wash.

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Steve Chiotakis: We're gonna find out this week if there is value in a name. Starbucks, synonymous for coffee and lattes, is trying something a little different in the branding department.
In a few of its Seattle stores, it's getting rid of its name, and changing it to reflect the locale rather than the company. From station KUOW, Liz Jones reports.


Liz Jones: The old Starbucks is now called "15th Avenue Coffee and Tea." That name reflects its street location and the company's desire to blend into the neighborhood. It will also offer beer, wine and live music.

Starbucks spokesman Major Cohen says they're going for a more energetic vibe with a European look.

Major Cohen: What I hope is that when you experience this that you clearly know that you've been in a Starbucks because of the coffee and because of the experience. But I hope that you've been surprised and delighted by the way we presented that experience.

Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy is surprised to see Starbucks downplay its brand. But he says that brand could also be a liability during the recession, since some view it as "premium" or "expensive."

R.J. Hottovy: Sales trends have been sluggish. They've struggled to bring in traffic as the economy has gotten softer. And I look at it really as another way of connecting with the consumer.

The company plans to open two more de-branded stores in the Seattle area. If they do well, Starbucks says it may take the idea to other cities.

In Seattle, I'm Liz Jones for Marketplace.

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