Starbucks Logo Change Is Short-sighted

The new Starbucks logo, which drops the company name, is a bad idea.

Dropping "Starbucks" and the word "Coffee" from its logo, and turning its symbolic mermaid into its well-known green coloring is not a strong enough change to create a usable "symbol only" corporate identity.

Chief executive Howard Schultz has the right idea about evolving the logo. His solution, however, shows some of the hubris that got the company into trouble a few years ago. If they want to evolve the name so the company can broaden its product line, they could have done so by dropping the word "coffee" from the Starbucks name.

Dropping the Starbucks name from the logo will only serve to confuse consumers who are not familiar with the company and, thus, the target of a company trying to broaden its product line.

A corporate identity should follow a brand strategy, which should follow a business strategy. In this regard, Starbucks approached the identity change appropriately. Unfortunately, as many generals learn, the best strategy can go to hell quickly in battle. I think that is what happened here. Those who created the new corporate identity internally live and breathe the female siren symbol on a daily basis. So, in my opinion, there was no objectivity, no outside perspective on the decision to drop the name.



This symbol is not the Apple logo, which is an apple. It is not the golden arches of McDonalds. It is not the Nike swoosh. All of these are very simple and clean symbols that evolved over time. The mermaid is a complex design and, while most loyal customers will recognize this symbol as the coffee formerly known as Starbucks, it bucks the very strategy of why they needed to evolve the logo in the first place.

The only good thing coming out of this for Starbucks is the huge number of blogs and articles on the subject.

2 comments about "Starbucks Logo Change Is Short-sighted ".
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  1. Lisa Merriam from Merriam Associates, January 7, 2011 at 1:47 p.m.

    It is hard to imagine people don't know Starbucks. I just arrived in Washington DC this am and was told to wait at the Starbucks on the corner. I felt like I was in a Simpson's episode because there were three Starbucks on the corner. The text in the old logo was pretty buried, so the logo was already an icon. Every logo change prompts negative critics to pile on--it doesn't mean the change is bad. Check out my analysis at MerriamAssociates all one word dotcom

  2. Rose Eliff from Self, January 7, 2011 at 6:03 p.m.

    Never noticed it was a mermaid until I read an article when they last updated the mermaid. I agree with the author that retaining Starbucks in the logo would be preferable. Still not sure what a mermaid has to do with stars, bucks or coffee.

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