Seattle’s Best is looking better

12.06

I’m Brian from Belfast, Maine and I’m a level 2.

Seattles Best Coffee, a subsidiary of Starbucks, has released a new packaging system for their coffee. A system of levels was created to allow customers to define themselves—and their taste preference—with a simple number. This numerical system is apparently the first of it’s kind in the industry and is designed to help customers navigate through the overwhelming selections of a grocery store coffee aisle.

The packaging itself is quite beautiful. In fact, everything I’ve seen since their rebrand is of an extremely high caliber, thanks to the talented people at Creature. Back in May, when I wrote about the new Seattles Best identity, I felt like the only person on the planet who wasn’t comparing it to “the local blood bank.” Honestly, how often do people visit their local blood bank? The Apple logo doesn’t remind me of the grocery store, nor does the Nike logo remind me of a checklist. In time, I’m sure people will equate the big red uvula exposing smile, with a drop of coffee in a happy mouth.

The numbers of the system (1-5) represent the roast level, beginning with 1, “mild, light, crisp” up through 5, “bold, dark, intense.” Neither of which descriptions actually say anything about the flavor of the coffee. I participated in a Live Facebook chat with Seattles Best reps last week to try and get some more specifics. However, the best I could get—after first just repeating what was on the bag—was that “Level 2 will have more acidity and less body.” It’s sad that the complexities of a coffee’s flavor profile have been simplified to improve convenience, not understanding.

The once modest brand, existing mainly in Border’s bookstores, has expanded rapidly after recently securing deals to provide coffee at 300 AMC movie theaters, 20,000 Subway and 7,500 Burger King restaurants. The new market strategy will make the brand visible to a very large audience, very quickly.

The new Seattles Best website is also quite innovative compared with other major coffee companies—actually when compared to major companies in general. It’s very design centric, using refined typography and clean illustration to create a vibrant environment that is a joy to explore. It may be on of my favorite corporate websites of all time. It actually outshines the rest of the brand in some ways.

Clicking on one box will walk you through the process of the new level system, while clicking on another will take you to a stunning interactive photo essay of their “10-Day coffee break,” where 1000 coffees were shared with strangers in Canada. Don’t miss the video of Pete the chainsaw wizard!

While I’m a sucker for a strong brand, the company has to back up their image with a product of equal quality. Since my sample is still in the mail, I won’t comment on the quality of their new blends just yet. However, based on past experience I hope the new look is more than just that—because it would be a beautiful waste.

I’ll leave you with one last promotion that made me smile, the Big Red Fridge. Enjoy.

[package photos via The DieLine]

posted by on 12.06.2010, under Design, Misc., Recommended Roasters

Seattle’s Best is all smiles

05.13

Yesterday morning, Seattle’s Best Coffee unveiled a new identity(designed by Seattle-based agency Creature) and announced their ambitious plans to expand further into fast-food chains throughout the US—including Subway, Burger King, and AMC Theaters. The company was founded in 1970, but was bought by Starbuck’s in 2003—and for the most part, left to its own devices. However, early last year Starbuck’s decided to better utilize the brand and expand into new markets. Their new plan is to have Seattle’s Best Coffee in 30,000 locations by this fall. With so much visibility in order, a re-brand was imminent.

I’ve only seen the new logo in the context above, so I’m curious to see how the system will expand. My first impression is positive and I like the new direction. It’s simple and it makes me smile. The modern aesthetic is a drastic, but appreciated departure from the old characterless branding. The previous design blended into the grocery store shelves, right alongside Red Diamond, Community Coffee, and Folger’s. This will definitely help differentiate them as well as attract a new generation of customers.

As for the coffee itself, it’s most likely on par with Starbucks. Regardless, it will be a great improvement for places like Subway and the movie theater.

www.seattlesbest.com

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posted by on 05.13.2010, under Design, Misc.