The coffee brand formerly known as…

January 6, 2011

Another logo change, another media frenzy. But the new Starbucks logo is just one part of their identity system.

Another logo change, another media frenzy. Changing the identity of a brand that has become so embedded in popular culture and in people’s daily lives naturally creates a very emotional response. But let’s step back and look at Starbuck’s change rationally.

What they did right:

1. Tied it to an anniversary of significance. A logo change should align with a shift or event in the business, whether an anniversary, a strategic change, etc. Timing-wise, it makes sense to do this.

2. Unveiled it along with an endorsement and rationale from the CEO, Howard Schultz. Getting ahead of the inevitable negative commentary with a purposeful message from senior leadership is key. {rokbox size=|600 400| text=|Watch video|}http://bcove.me/yglo69kc{/rokbox}

3. Give the logo the breathing room to stand for a bigger idea. Starbucks has stood for more than coffee for a while now; this solidifies that approach while hanging onto the heritage.

Starbucks Cup

So, what have they done wrong? Well, if you look at the postings on their site, one third of the posters think they’ve flushed everything they’ve ever had down the toilet, another third applaud their progressiveness and the final third are cautiously optimistic but offer advice on how to revise it. So it’s pretty much a split from the posting public so far.

From my standpoint, I’m withholding judgment. I firmly believe that a logo, no matter what it looks like, will only be as good as the system that supports it across all touch points. Yes, removing the name from the cup (as far as I can tell, the cup design is the only thing that’s been unveiled) is a bold move; yes, like Nike, Apple, etc. Deep in my logo-designing heart, I actually want to believe that people do recognize and relate to symbols, even subliminally, and that the recognition of the unadorned siren is stronger than the naysayers think. But regardless of that, I haven’t seen the full solution yet. The Starbuck’s name will undoubtedly still be used in key applications, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they handle it.

The whole identity system is the solution, and I hope for their sake that they get it right, otherwise the naysayers will win. As for me, I’ll weigh back in after the full launch in March.

Andrew Bogucki is CoreBrand's Executive Creative Director

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