Brand decaf?

March 8, 2011

Barely awake, with my hot Venti in hand, I noticed that something was missing from my Starbucks cup. Like Nike, AT&T and Target (just to name a few), Starbucks has gone “nameless.” The iconic Siren symbol is now larger and easier to see—but very much alone. The Starbucks wordmark (now minus “Coffee”) appears small and vertical on the opposite side of the cup.

My first reaction was surprise. From media reports, I knew the change was coming, but I didn’t anticipate such a major impact on the personality of the brand. Without the circle of bold, sans serif typography, the symbol alone loses its visual power, significance and strength. Not a good thing for a company who prides itself on intense, bold flavor. Unlike Nike—with its perfectly energetic swoosh—I think Starbucks has made a mistake. Will consumers recognize the Siren as the Starbucks brand? I think so. Yet, I still wonder if this particular symbol is strong enough to stand on its own two tails. I don’t think so, but only time will tell. Coffee anyone?

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