Starbucks recently lost a lawsuit over a dark roast coffee line, known as Charbucks, sold by a small New Hampshire coffee roaster. The Charbucks line of products essentially parody some of Starbucks more popular blends and are described (rather sarcastically) as containing “strong ‘dark’ notes that West Coast coffee drinkers like.” The East coast market has been traditional dominated by very light and medium roast coffees, a fact that is supported by the popularity of “blond” and other light roast brews out there, and the popularity of Starbucks makes it a frequent choice for just about any coffee-related jokes.
The courts said that Charbucks products – and Charbucks is not the name of the roaster, just of some of their coffees – would not be confused with actual Starbucks products. A phone survey that was used as evidence in the case found that “the number one association of the name ‘Charbucks’ in the minds of consumers is with the brand ‘Starbucks’” and that 39.5 percent of participants thought of “Starbucks” or “coffee” when they heard the word “Charbucks.” But the survey also found that less than 5% of people surveyed would expect to find a Charbucks product in a Starbucks location – a fact that the court used to support its ruling that consumers would most likely not confuse Charbucks packaged coffee with any product sold at a Starbucks store.
Building a brand is a long, slow journey. It doesn’t seem like that when you’re looking at companies that have such strong brands that they’re recognized worldwide, like McDonalds, Nike and Starbucks, but it was true even for them at one time. And that is why brands fight hard to protect their logos and designs – even in situations when it may seem like it isn’t having a big impact.
Starbucks is currently engaged in a lawsuit with Thai coffee vendors Damrong and Damras Maslae, who operate a stall with a sign that reads Starbung Coffee in Bangkok. The logo looks suspiciously like that of the big coffee chain: a green circle with the name of the coffee around a black circle bearing a figure that is in approximately the same position as the famous mermaid. The figure is supposed to be a man in a skullcap pouring coffee and holding up a victory sign, and the owners state that it was conceived by a creative friend who was inspired by Islam and not by Starbucks. The logo is clearly not inspired by Islam, which doesn’t exactly encourage people to use the human form – cartoonish or otherwise – in art. Putting that aside, the logos look extremely similar.
Some people will say that no one will confuse this stall with the “real” Starbucks – but for the coffee company, why should that question even arise? It would be easy to mistake Maslae’s sign for Starbucks’ at a distance and, considering that this hasn’t been his logo for very long, it might be in his best interest to keep serving his good, authentic coffee and get his creative friend to come up with something not already imagined by an international coffee brand.
Sunday, September 29, 2013 is National Coffee Day. A good way to celebrate is with a cup of coffee – but an even better way to celebrate is with a free cup of coffee (and maybe a pastry to go with it!).
- Starbucks: Free coffee tastings of the new Ethiopia coffee blend at Starbucks – and anyone who purchases a one-pound bag of Ethiopia beans in-stores that day will receive a free Ethiopian-inspired ceramic cup (while supplies last – go early).
- Dunkin’ Donuts: Free small hot or iced coffee on all day on National Coffee Day with an offer on the Dunkin’ Donuts mobile app
- Peet’s Coffee & Tea: Order any baked item or oatmeal between 10 am and 2pm on National coffee day and get a free small maple latte, their seasonal offering. You’ll need to bring this coupon with you, though.
- Caribou Coffee: Free small coffee of the day at participating stores with a coupon, printed or shown on your mobile device, from their Facebook page.
- Tim Hortons: Say “Happy National Coffee Day” when you order your coffee and you’ll get a buy one, get one free deal on your coffee order.
- Krispy Kreme: Free 12-ounce cup of hot coffee and $1 small specialty drinks, like the Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Your coffee order says a lot about your personal preferences, but did you know that it also says something about your personality. A new clinical psychology study revealed surprising connections between what you like to drink and your personality. So what does your coffee order say about you? Pick your favorite cup off this list to find out:
Black coffee: simple and straightforward, but also quiet and set in their ways.
Latte: eager to please others, but more likely to be neurotic and not take great care of themselves.
Instant coffee: laid back, but more likely to be procrastinators as a result
Foamy drinks (cappuccinos, macchiatos) and decaf: detail oriented, bordering on obsessive and tend to be controlling
Sweet drinks (including frozen/blended): young at heart and “socially bold” trendsetters, but tend towards recklessness and acting like “overgrown kids”
These aren’t hard and fast rules, but if you look closely enough – much as with Astrological forecasts – you’ll probably be able find something that fits you on the menu!