I think it was smart.
This new type of branding is interesting.
I noticed that something similar is happening with McDonalds in Japan. They've opened up stores called "Quarter Pounder" where they are only selling QPers with or without cheese. There is no McDonalds branding anywhere, no golden arches, no yellow and white and red. They've stripped down the Branding and the colors to that it is simple message, simple food, simply good.
I love this striping down of branding that is going on - it is also questioning the integrity of products. When economy is slow, it is product integrity that makes people purchase. You buy what you know works, what you know to be true, and these companies are doing that. I think that that is what Starbucks was trying to do with their limited time only logo, but they need to strip down more than that and recognize that their product has become iconic. Go back to basics.