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Starbucks Coffee Liqueur Brand
 

Starbucks Coffee Liqueur - double shot


  Starbucks Coffee Liqueur
double shot
by Alycia de Mesa
March 28, 2005

Starbucks, the coffee, now has an adult-only cousin: Starbucks, the liquor. Starbucks Coffee Liqueur is the company's most recent attempt to extend the iconic brand from the strip mall to bars and kitchens everywhere.

Sold in 750 ml bottles, the packaging immediately conjures the three main elements at play: liquor, coffee and Starbucks. The bottle shape is a replica of a cocktail shaker with a functional lid that doubles as a shot measurement. The stars in Starbucks logo are echoed in a reverse color band around the bottom of the bottle lid. Dark espresso replaces the traditional silver color of the "shaker" to evoke the deep, rich coffee for which Starbucks is famous.

 
 

While many liquor brands proudly display fairly complicated or elaborate bottle labels made of paper, the product designers opted for a minimalist painted label and raised glass approach, with the famous green logo directly centered on the espresso background. The "Coffee Liqueur" product descriptor is presented below it in complementary white and tan—make that latte—colors.

The name "Starbucks" appears three times on the front of the bottle in highly understated displays. First as the logo, second designed in with the product descriptor (as, surprisingly, the smallest font of the "Starbucks Coffee Liqueur" trio of words), and third as raised glass around the neck of the bottle in a non-logo sans-serif font.

Overall, the minimalist approach is effective as the green logo on the dark background "pops" from the sea of competing brands placed next to it regardless of whether its displayed in a drug store or trendy bar. Of all the Starbucks products sold in retail channels, it is by far the most minimal design. No one can accuse Starbucks of not thinking through every detail of its branding. Even the end aisle display units located in grocery stores perfectly echo the Starbucks shop environment with its use of modern and casual light woods and sparsely branded elements.

Compared to other products from its "At Home" line, the uncomplicated nomenclature of corporate brand plus generic descriptor (i.e., Starbucks Coffee Liqueur) is refreshingly clear. The company makes no overtures to create yet another catchy name concoction like Frappuccino or DoubleShot. It reserves that for its drink recipes à la Mochatini, Vodka Americano, Cocomintini and Blushin' Russian.

The product itself is derived from actual Starbucks coffee (100 percent to be exact), combined with 20 percent alcohol. An informal survey of Starbucks customers and liquor store managers uncovered nothing but rave reviews for the taste of the product, regardless of whether it was mixed with coffee, other drinks or on the rocks. Unlike popular coffee-mixing liqueurs such as Kahlua, Bailey's and Frangelico, Starbucks Coffee Liqueur's taste is more coffee than sticky sweet.

Price-wise the product comes in anywhere from US$ 5 to $ 10 more than the above brands but approximately $ 10 less than Godiva Liqueur. To date Godiva, the luxury chocolatier, is the only other food and beverage company in the US to extend its brand into liquor and specifically the liqueur segment in a similar manner. It seems coffee and chocolate go hand in hand with product extensions and taste buds. Since its Godiva Liqueur debut, the company has extended the product line to include Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur and Godiva Cappuccino Liqueur. Also like Starbucks, Godiva is in the grocery store ice cream business as well.

The new Starbucks product is the result of a joint venture with Jim Beam Brands Co., makers of various spirits and wines. Jim Beam Brands is responsible for developing, manufacturing and distributing the product. According to a press release from Starbucks website, research conducted by Starbucks revealed that nearly 50 percent of its loyal patrons consume coffee liqueurs. Hence the move into liqueurs was more logical than one might initially think. Nationwide the cordials and liqueurs are reported to be a $ 4 to 5 billion market.

The collaboration with Jim Beam isn't the first time Starbucks has teamed with other top tier brands to create new products for the home market. In 1995, the company collaborated with Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream to introduce Starbucks Coffee Ice Cream and the following year with Pepsi-Cola Company for its bottled Starbucks Frappuccino drinks. According to the company website, the above products including Starbucks DoubleShot espresso drink are number one in their respective categories.

 
     
  

Alycia de Mesa is a brand identity consultant and writer with over 10 years experience from Fortune 100 to start-up companies. She is author of Before The Brand, the definitive brand identity handbook, published by McGraw-Hill (under the name Alycia Perry).

  
     
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