seattles-best-coffee-stirs-up-heated-opinions: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance

Seattle's Best Coffee revealed a redesigned logo this week. Unfortunately, it's ambiguous look brings to mind a lot more than just a cup of joe.

The simplified design seems rather generic, say some of the kinder observers. Other pundits are calling it a bowl of cereal filled with tears. But the harshest critics say the new look seems more appropriate for a blood donation center.

"Seattle's Best Blood Bank," wrote one snarky blog commentator. "High school art students could do a better job at designing a logo," proclaimed another. Ouch.

A poll from The Seattle Times revealed a whopping 68 percent of over 2,000 respondents thought Seattle's Best Coffee should "try again."

In response, Seattle's Best, which Starbucks acquired in 2003, says it didn't intend for its new look to be fancy or visually arresting. According to a spokesperson for the company, the logo "has to live in all kinds of environments." The understated look may be intentionally generic, as she says they "want it to be a universal sign for good coffee someday."

Even if the new logo doesn't have universal appeal, Seattle's Best itself is sure to become more ubiquitous over the course of the next fiscal year. Starbucks intends to expand the brand to more than 30,000 locations by the end of the fiscal year. That's a tall—or in Starbucks language, "venti"—order, considering the brand is currently available at a comparatively limited 3,000 locations.

Much of the increased availability will be through existing chains—Seattle's Best Coffee will appear at AMC Theatres and Borders bookstores in the near future, and all Burger King restaurants by September. This extensive expansion follows on the heels of news that Starbucks brand ground coffee will soon be available at grocery stores across the country.

Will this maligned redesign go down as badly for Starbucks as Tropicana's rebranding disaster? Last year the orange-juice giant switched its familiar straw-sticking-out-of-an-orange logo with a picture of a simple, unadorned glass of OJ—and its customers went berserk. In the space of two months, Tropicana ditched the redesign and returned to the familiar packaging.

Then again, when Pepsi simplified its logo back in 2008 there was a similarly vocal and immediate outcry from the public, but these days there doesn't seem to be much reaction to Pepsi's redesigned bottles. Whether Seattle's Best Coffee will cave in like Tropicana or weather the storm until consumers move on to the next controversy remains to be seen.