What to learn from Starbucks’ new logo


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Wow what a logo!

As the author of The Stabucks Experience I have had many people ask about the NEW STARBUCKS LOGO!

The principle questions I’ve fielded since the announcement earlier this week are variations of the following:

1) Why replace an iconic logo?

2) Will the new logo “stick”?

3) When should I change my logo (if ever)?

I’ll answer the first question in today’s blog and save the others for future installments..

The Starbucks logo that most people identify with the brand is the 3rd in the companies 40 year history and came into play in 1992

It was preceeded by a 1987

and 1971 version

The current logo happens to be one of the most internationally recognizable icons so why mess with success?

The answer is three-fold for:

experience imagery,

brand extension and

image relevance.

Here’s CEO Howard Shultz’s take on experience imagery and brand extension,”The new interpretation of the logo, at its core, is the exact same essence of the Starbucks experience, and that is the love we have for our coffee, the relationship we have with our partners, and the connection we build with our customers…We have allowed her to come out of the circle in a way that I think gives us the freedom and flexibility to think beyond coffee.”

While I would never bet against Howard, I can’t quite see the experience imagery in the new logo and almost always prefer a brand name to be attached to a logo.  However, as is the case with the Nike swoosh, I can appreciate how the new Starbucks logo could broaden the products powerful mark to other forms of merchandise.

As for image relevance, the senior creative manager at Starbucks describes the logo change as follows: ”we wanted to recognize and honor the important equities of the iconic Starbucks logo. So we broke down the four main parts of the mark – color, shape, typeface and the Siren. After hundreds of explorations, we found the answer in simplicity. Removing the words from the mark, bringing in the green, and taking the Siren out of her ring. For forty years she’s represented coffee, and now she is the star…. We improved composition, brought in more sophisticated stroke width and spacing and a smoother line flow. When it came to the Siren, we enhanced her form in subtle ways, smoothing her hair, refining her facial features, weighting the scales on her tail to bring the focus to her face….The result is an evolved logo that celebrates the Siren in a much bolder way – it’s more expressive and energetic and still uses the same vibrant green circle that is so well recognized by our customers around the world.”

I work with creatives in the agency that Starbucks partnered with and applaud their ability to make the image more edgy and relevant.

But how does this relate to you?  Here are a few questions to ponder…

How much breadth does your brand’s visual imagery offer for future brand extension?

Could your imagery ever stand-alone without word representation of your brand?

How edgy, energized, and relevant are the images associated with your brand?

No doubt about it Starbucks’ future logo is bold – as is the decision to change it.  However, given the ubiquity of the brand I suspect it will reap the benefits of the change without losing brand recognizability.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D.
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., an organizational consultant and the chief experience officer of The Michelli Experience, authored The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the best-selling The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.


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