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Not sure if it’s the decade change or a mid-life marketing crisis, but the marketing gurus at Starbucks have decided that their mermaid logo design is so iconic they no longer need to tell the world their name or what they sell. Clearly, they think their mermaid is on the level of the golden arches and Nike’s swoosh. What do you think? (See comments below.)
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17 Responses to “Starbucks logo change: No Starbucks, No Coffee.”
I probably would not recognize the mermaid without the name unless it was a sign on a coffee shop or coffee cup. I would recognize it as coffee and then I would associate the mermaid.
It is not a bad strategy. Sometimes it is enough to make us focus on the question of “What is that?” or “That’s familiar, where have I seen that before?” It wouldn’t be a burning question, it would just go to the back of the brain. Then one day something would answer it (a la seeing it on the side of a coffee shop or on a coffee cup) then the question would be answered. An itch will have been scratched.
I do not agree with this move at all. I understand that all companies like to simplifying everything but I really think they still need their name on there. Of course, they are Starbucks and they can do whatever they want and it wont hurt or make a difference.
I think they should go back to their full mermaid that they started with. The twin tailed mermaid from the 15th century Greeks, with her breasts out and in the business of seducing mariners with songs and promises of sex and then killing them…
They are removing the reference to coffee so they can brand extend themselves out of business. They’re testing beer and wine bars out west. For me, they pooped the bed when they removed the manual espresso machines (clunk clunk) and replaced them with automated ones. It’s probably also a global thing – getting rid of the English characters. Steve@whatstheidea.com
The mermaid logo is elegant, but I would have never know that is was Starbucks without the word “Starbucks” on it. I don’t think mermaid says Starbucks the way Apple’s apple says Apple…getting to the core of the problem so to speak.
Yeah it didn’t work in Chinese, or German, or Russian…etc. The one universal language is the visual one, so they did what smart global brands like Nike did years ago (it doesn’t say “shoes” or even “nike” does it, but damn that swoosh is pretty iconic). Coffee is pretty specific and limiting. Apple figured this out a few years ago when it lost “computer” from it’s corporate name and has of course only been using the apple icon for years. Kind of looks hokey now when you look at those old Apple logos doesn’t it?
I don’t think this change makes sense. If they are aiming to expand their brand beyond coffee, why not just remove the word “coffee” from the logo. I don’t think this logo is nearly as universally recognizable as the golden arches or the Nike Swoosh.
WOW! Somebody has been in the fog too long in Seattle. If you said you would give me $1000 to tell me what is inside of the Starbucks logo…I would have said a bag of coffee beans, with probably a Juan Valdez looking chick. (FYI: In Bogota, Columbia they have a chain of Juan Valdez coffee shops that are a Starbucks knock-off. They better pay more attention to their competition.)
I never noticed inside the logo, never got past the stars and the name ‘Star’ bucks. Somebody fire the marketing guys and get back to serving me coffee.
AS far as omiting the words to be more global? Dude, we aren’t selling food and coffee overseas, we are selling the American experience.
The Nike swoosh and McDonald’s arches are even more abstract than a mermaid – none of them intrinsically communicate their product/services.
So on some level, it’s about market momentum and history, and building a bridge to the future.
Starbucks doesn’t really need to specify “coffee” or “baked goods” or “music” or “a place to hang out” in their logo – because millions of little interactions and experiences are creating that association every day for consumers.
First, I never understood the relevance of the mermaid to begin with. It’s not like they’re in the in the seafood business.
Second, the best part of their logo was the type treatment. If they want to broaden their business beyond coffee, just loose the “coffee.” The Starbucks font is nice, bold, and clean.
Third, I really think it’s hubris on their part to think they’ve built up strong, identifiable equity in the mermaid. Sorry, it’s not the Nike swoosh or the golden arches of McDonalds. It’s not even the Chevy logo.
Think “The Gap” or Tropicana. Will marketing people never learn? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Aspiring to become another Nike with a simple, elegant visual brand is an understandable goal, but I don’t think this brand is as universally recognized outside of the coffee shop environment as for example the Nike or some other brands are. Seems to be corroborated by some of the comments here.
My take, this is simply a little preparation for a big expansion in China. Getting English off the logo makes it much easier to scale their marketing because they don’t have to keep track of different logos for different languages.
Capitalizing on their equity for expansion is probably inevitable. However, the mermaid logo alone is too complex to register their brand across other product lines. Unlike the “golden arches” and the “swoosh”, this mark is too nebulous and
will cause confusion. They better launch each product with a massive Ad campaign.
Starbucks is not longer just about the coffee. They are also about music, marketing, Aermican habits and so much more. By removing the word ‘coffee’ from their logo they are, in a way, more free to expand without the restrictions of being associated with just coffee. Perhaps they might want to step up their food offerings one day and create something that becomes a best seller in the line of food. I suppose stripping the word coffee from their logo leaves things a bit more wide open for them. I’ve enjoyed everyone else’s thoughtful and interesting threads. Thanks for the forum, John.