Brand Impact of New Starbucks Logo

Celebrating its 40th anniversary in March 2011, Starbucks Coffee is releasing a new Company Logo. Joining the ranks of many who have gone before with company re-branding, -can the new logo help the coffee giant or will this be yet another epic fail for co

Starbucks Coffee, -Still Young at 40

In March of 2011, Starbucks will celebrate its 40th Anniversary. Ringing it in will be a new redesigned logo, the fourth logo change for the purveyor of the world's finest coffee.

The new mono-colored logo removes the outer solid-color graphic ring and text but retains their symbolic two-tailed mermaid in their familiar green. Gone are the name "Starbucks" and the word "Coffee."

I am left to wonder, -how does removing the name "Starbucks Coffee" from their distinctive logo improve their brand presence?

Changing corporate branding can be a risky venture. Many times the consumers fail to appreciate the change from the familiar to the different unless there is a valid reason. For Starbucks patrons, this may be one of those occasions. Removing the company name and quintessential product wording from the logo itself? What possible advantage can this create?

Brief History of Starbucks Coffee Brand & Logo

The first Starbucks opens in Seattle in the 1970s. The name is derived from the name of the First Mate of the 19th century Whaling Vessel "Pequod" from novelist Herman Melville's Moby Dick.

Use of the mythical mermaid seductress in their first logo, a two-tailed bare-breasted siren was to express the allure and seduction of their product.

starbucks original logo

(image source)

starbucks logo

(image source)

new logo for starbucks

(image source)

(image © Copyright Starbucks. Non-free use rationale: identification and critical commentary may qualify as fair use under United States copyright law.

From 1992 through 2011, the familiar logo (center image) has been their trademark insignia, and the new 'downsized-upscaled' logo is shown on the right.

Assuming you have never before heard of Starbucks Coffee, -what would you think about this image? Could it be for shampoo, soaps, lotions or for a health spa? When traveling about town and I want a cup of coffee, I look for signage out front that says "COFFEE." This image seductively whispers ambiguity to me. I don't think that was the intention Starbuck's has in mind.

As it is, Starbucks Coffee franchises around the world have been in decline since circa mid-2000s. Boasting nearly 17,000 locations in over 50 countries, -their brand is recognized worldwide. Yet all is not complacent as in recent years there have been hundreds of store closings, several thousand job eliminations occurred and more recently, falling stock value in response to new product announcements.

Maybe Starbucks just doesn't get it, -it's not the logo. The mentality of 'just do something' seems to be in play. Other experiments in the works like new single-serving coffee packets and super-secret 'new things' in the works are being hinted at, but will this actually change anything? Will these new products improve their bottom line and how does a new logo fit into these plans?

Starbuck's released a short video that outlines their seemingly over-optimistic intentions.

Starbucks Logo Redesign: A Critical Opinion

It remains to be seen if the uber-kewl sleek modern logo redesign is anything other than corporate leetspeak hype that will miss their target objective and end in abject failure. What the driving force behind this and other changes is for the most part, unknown. But if you put enough silk-suited white collar decision makers in a boardroom together it usually ends in a rousing round self-congratulatory back-slapping that shows how not in touch they actually are with their consumer base.

a coffee mug with the text Starbucks Coffee on the side

(image by author)

Starbucks is taking a terrible chance on their high opinion of a logo redesign. A chance that in this writer's opinion will only create confusion with their customers, and a weaker corporate identity. Soon enough, 'no-name' Corporate rubber-stamp image will likely learn the same lesson that recently befell the ill-conceived "GAP" clothing logo redesign: their customers hated it.

The truth is that Starbucks is no different than any public sectored consumer goods company: they own the company but we wear the product.

I am predicting the new logo will not be easily accepted by Starbucks Coffee drinkers. Soon, corporate no-name will be announcing yet another logo redesign.

A word of warnings to corporate re-branding designers: Stop messing with our logos!

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