Creative License

We’ve seen your ideas sharing that you wish licensed stores felt more like company-owned stores. I wanted to give you an update from our store design team about how we listen to your feedback and are applying store design principles across all of our stores. Here’s an example of one of these stores in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood.

What was once the site of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is now City University. The store serves both the college and the surrounding neighborhood seamlessly. I sat down with Parker E., designer of this beautiful store to find out more about this new licensed store location.

SS: Tell me about the 6th & Wall store; it’s stunning.
PE: That used to be the Seattle PI building. It had great bones with art deco elements, so I wanted to approach it just like I would a company-owned store.

SS: Meaning … what? How is that a different design from our licensed stores?
PE: Usually the difference is in the building itself—the style, the architecture. And, of course, you have to keep in mind the licensee’s brand.

SS: So, the art deco set this off?
PE: I knew I wanted to play off of that, but I also wanted to use this as a chance to demonstrate to the licensee on what our brand approach is: honor the existing building architecture and you honor the neighborhood.

SS: And what did the building say to you?
PE: The space read “raw artisan.” It had this industrial-loft vibe. That’s what hit me—the warehouse feel with a view of the old PI globe on the waterfront in what’s now a new project [City University]. I could see the big idea. Rejuvenation.

SS: Your “big idea” must’ve struck a chord with the college. They weren’t concerned about the store reading all Starbucks and no City University?
PE: Well, I did a lot to blend the two brands together. For instance, the blue tile along the back bar was custom made to reflect CU’s colors and the choice of the leather seating finishes reflects their logo. We also built a community table with lots of power outlets so that their students can plug in and keep studying. It’s important to remember how the store is going to be used and what the licensee needs for their customers too.

SS: Cool. I like the subtle nods to keeping their brand identity. What are the design elements that you feel are uniquely Starbucks?
PE: The mural. We had local artist Mike Martinez do a custom mural that looks like you’re sitting on the monorail. That was a cool effect because the monorail runs right next to the store and reminds you to hop on and see our local sights. We also used reclaimed African hardwood on the walls of the workroom; there’s no dry wall in the space, it’s natural. These little things—using local artists, incorporating unique features of the neighborhood like the monorail and using real materials—reflect our design philosophy.

Learning about the store from Parker left me both humbled and excited. I’m continually impressed with the thoughtful and intrinsic care placed into our store designs. And now, the same level of attention is finding its way to our licensed stores —one cup, one neighborhood and one licensee at a time.

Inspired by your ideas:

Continuity between Corporate and Licensed Stores
posted by WorkFromHome

Starbucks in Universities
posted by bracha15


1/13/2014 10:05 AM

I recently visited a Starbucks on a university campus in Pembroke,North Carolina. The employees were wonderful. The pastries are delicious as well as drinks. The atmosphere was so calming and stress free.

1/15/2014 4:41 PM

And the question is - does this licensed store honor the rewards program?

Boston Pat
1/16/2014 2:06 PM

I'd prefer licensed stores to look LESS like corporate locations, so that I know to walk right past them.  Staff is less knowledgeable, ingredients are different (like off-brand soy milk), pricing is inconsistent, special offers are not honored, payment methods are limited... there are so many reasons I avoid these bootleg locations.  I've given them plenty of chances to prove me wrong, but I can't waste any more money on kinda sorta Starbucks.

1/23/2014 8:21 AM

It'd be great if all licensed stores were required to have the app scanners.  It's absolutely annoying to have to read my starbucks card number everytime.

1/25/2014 9:55 AM

Al the stores could look the same.  Or, all the stores can be different.  Whatever works.  Other coffee shops figured this out years ago.  The problem isn't the decor, it's the structural issues.  I can't scan my new heart shaped gift card at Target.  Some locations won't give me my rewards.  And, as pointed out, basic products being offered aren't aways the same.  Sorry, when I see the big Siren logo on the storefront, I excpect the same quality, service, and level of barista training.  Unfortunately, that is not now, nor is ever likely to happen.  PLEASE- Ditch the licenced concept model.  There is so much ill will, and negativity coming from it, all the fancy 'new' uppcycled materials, and furnishings aren't going to change that.

2/11/2014 6:34 PM

Here at the University of Tennessee we have a 24 hour starbucks in our library. It's by far the best thing EVER! It's small and cozy and has the full menu. It also as the scanners to read starbucks giftcards. These should def be everywhere.  They don't however honor the honor program I don't think. I know I couldn't redeem my free birthday drink at that location but otherwise it's an A+ with me

2/11/2014 6:35 PM

that should have said scanners to read the giftcards via the cell phone apps* We just hold our phones up to the scanner and it's handled.

2/15/2014 1:20 PM

Whether it looks like a Starbucks, or not.  If the licensed store doesn't' offer the same products and services, Starbucks is only further diluting the brand they worked so hard to build.  Seattle's Best concept as a brand is far less confusing.  They can be franchised, and no one appears to be complaining the way they are about Starbucks licensees.

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