Monday, March 21, 2011

Starbucks Logo Debate

A few months ago Starbucks announced they would be unveiling a new logo, removing the outer ring around the siren image to help give their brand a more global appeal. I had an opportunity over the weekend to see the new logo in a Starbucks commercial. Although I am not a coffee drinker or loyal consumer of Starbucks, I have mixed feelings about the new logo. I defiantly understand why Starbucks chose to remove the text from their logo, allowing them to branch out to other products besides coffee, but I think society as a whole seems to be uncomfortable with change. I remember when GM Place changed over to Rogers Arena; ever to this day people still call it GM Place because it is a name they are comfortable with and a name that they associate that building with. Change takes time, and there seems to be mixed reviews and a feeling of uncertainty from consumers in the market about the new Starbucks logo.
Nancy Koehn of Harvard Business School discusses the new logo change:
What I am certain of is that Starbucks and its CEO, Howard Schultz, have a history of breaking new ground with the company's brand, and that one of the core attributes of this brand is customer engagement. Seen from these two vantage points, I'm betting that Starbucks will come out a winner with this move.

The image above showcases the evolving Starbucks logo from the old school brown Nordic-inspired woodcut to the sleeker more modern logo we know today. Starbucks noted that their logo was so unique; they no longer needed to display their name around the logo for consumer brand recognition. Their logo without the text is said to reflect their expansion plan into China and other international markets. Some have noted this new generic logo to be somewhat dangerous for the company as it tries to diversify into the Chinese market, noting that the company might soon lose its core business vision while branching out to Chinese consumers.
In a video recently posted on the Starbucks website, CEO Howard Schultz talks about the decision to update their logo on the 40th anniversary, “The new evolution of the logo … embraces and respects our heritage and at the same time, evolves us to a point where we will feel it’s more suitable for the future. The new interpretation of the logo … gives us the freedom and flexibility to think beyond coffee but make no mistake … we will continue to be the world’s leading purveyor of the highest-quality coffee.”
Starbucks noted that their logo change is not a limiting factor for the company but part of the brand’s core appeal.
Nigel Hollis of Harvard Business Review seems to touch much closer to the affects of the logo change:
“If the name ‘Starbucks’ is so strongly associated with coffee that you have to remove the name in order to launch another product, does that not suggest that the corporate strategy is out of synch with customer understanding?”
Your thoughts?

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