Established in 1994 as an independent company and purchased by Starbucks in 1999, Tazo makes tea products and markets them as if tea were a higher calling. (I’m not knocking it, that’s just the way they do it — example of copywriting: “We experience the goodness of the leaves with all our senses, but most of all with our imaginations.”) Back in November new packaging started to appear in grocery stores and Starbucks and with the opening of the first Tazo store at University Village in Seattle a whole new identity has been introduced. No press release issue or design credit given. My guess is that it was internal, since Starbucks has such a strong in-house team. All the images below have been cobbled together from around the internet so it’s a little hodgepodge in terms of presentation, but you’ll get the point.
The previous packaging and identity was a contemporary classic of our industry when it was introduced in the mid 1990s with a design by Sandstrom that captured the grunge appeal of the era in a sophisticated manner and established a kind of mythical, ethereal brand for Tazo. It’s been nearly 20 years and both the logo and packaging have been pared down over time to be less… runic. This new version is very much in tune with the new Starbucks brand: clean, simple, airy, friendly. It lacks the visual punch of the original product but it maintains the zen appeal of tea in general and delivers the products — which now include all kinds of tea extensions like honey and teaware — to a bigger mainstream audience through a more streamlined brand architecture. The new store serves as the epitome of the new look where it just invites you to enjoy the product and relax. Not bad.