Aug 19, 2022 - Economy

Starbucks is gone from Russia, but you'll have to squint to realize it

A logo for the new Stars Coffee restaurant (Photo:Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP via Getty Images), and Starbucks (Photo: picture alliance via Getty Images)

Starbucks pulled its brand from Russia in May, but the coffee shop that's replacing it might conjure familiar feelings.

Driving the news: Stars Coffee on Friday opened its doors in Moscow, emblazoning its stores and cups with a logo that doesn't make much of an attempt to forget the American company that left.

Why it matters: Russian consumers were first introduced to western brands in 1990, following the country's pivot from communism to capitalism. Three decades later, more than 1,000 companies have withdrawn or curtailed operations there since the country's invasion of Ukraine, according to a list compiled by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of the Yale School of Management.

  • But branding could be hard to shake.

Details: A co-owner of the new Stars Coffee chain, described by The Moscow Times as a pro-Kremlin rapper, reportedly acknowledged the effort for some continuity in the branding following Starbucks' departure, but seemed to defend the details.

  • "People's perceptions may be different," Timur Yunusov, known as Timati, told CNN. "But if you compare, then apart from the circle, you won't find anything in common."

Catch up fast: Timati and co-owner Anton Pinsky, a Russian restaurateur, announced in July they had bought the Starbucks chain. Sindika, a Russian hospitality holding company, is backing the new business.

  • There were 130 Starbucks locations in Russia when the company pulled its brand from the country. The stores were owned by Kuwait-based Alshaya Group, a Starbucks’s licensee.

What they're saying: Starbucks has declined comment on the new Stars branding, according to news reports.

Of note: In a brand expression guide on its website, Starbucks called the Siren — the female image in its logo — the face of its brand.

  • "Her image and our strong wordmark are our most recognizable brand assets," the company said.
  • "The preferred approach is to use the Siren logo by itself, unlocked from the wordmark. This allows flexibility to present the Siren with greater prominence while maintaining a considered, open and modern presentation."

What's next: The new Stars Coffee franchise plans to open 10 more Moscow locations this month and expand to 90 by the end of September, while expanding to 16 other Russian cities, the Moscow Times reported.

Go deeper: Starbucks closes its 130 Russian stores amid war in Ukraine

Go deeper