Wednesday, January 5, 2011

starbucks' logo wtf

Wendesday, Starbucks (NYSE: SBUX) released a new logo that strips the "Starbucks Coffee" copy off their iconic design.

"This new evolution of the logo does two things that are very important," says Starbucks CEO Howard Schulzt via a video posted to the company's website. "It embraces and respects our heritage and at the same time evolves us to a point where we feel it's more suitable to the future."

In the video announcement, Schultz alluded to Starbucks' intention to get into different markets. The new design will supposedly give the company more flexibility in branding, all the while maintaining its brand of being "the world's leading purveyor of the highest-quality coffee."

Good luck with that, Schultzy.

Yes, Starbucks is huge. And, yes, Starbucks has a very high brand recognition when the name is verbalized or written.

However, is the visual cue as potent? I'm saying no.

Only but the most coffee-crazed of consumers can really recall what the Starbucks logo looks like. It took me at least a year or two of drinking Starbucks coffee to really pick up that the logo featured a "siren." By removing the "Starbucks Coffee" lettering, Starbucks is essentially killing the most identifiable portion of its brand.

This is supposed to help them in expanding markets?

The Starbucks logo is iconic, but not easily recalled. And, recall will be even worse among new customers without the lettering.

However, that may be the least of Starbucks' worries.

This news about Starbucks wanting to line-extend itself into other markets should have investors worried. Their brand is about to roast.

Starbucks is coffee. Coffee, and coffee only. That is the word they own in consumers minds. By trying to expand beyond coffee, Starbucks is going to severely dilute the potency of their brand.

So, let's get this straight...

Starbucks unnecessarily changes their logo. Adding to that, they strip it of the strongest brand identity trait: the name and product. And, to make matters worse, it sounds like they're about to dilute their brand by line-extending themselves into other markets?

Sounds like a triple venti of branding fail to me.

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