Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Starbucks Chooses Siren Over Recognized Name

Okay, I realize I'm committing the cardinal sin of blogging by being oh, about 2 weeks or so late to the punch, but I was blissfully lying on a beach sipping piña coladas when the Starbucks news broke and am only now really getting back into the swing of things. Apologies dear readers on being so delayed on such big logo redesign news!

If you haven't yet heard, and I don't know how that's possible, Starbucks dramatically changed it's logo—cutting out the words 'Starbucks Coffee' and using just the image of the siren in Starbucks green. I posted a few years ago about Starbucks' logo evolution with a link to an AdFreak article showing and discussing the various changes in the logo. My original post was sparked by a news story about a conservative group getting upset over Starbucks using their original logo—which has a more scandalous version of the siren their latest logo focuses in on.

People tend to be rather divided on their opinion of Starbucks new logo. My initial reaction was 'Why did they do that? Most people don't even notice the siren.' Not to mention those that noticed it in the past, weren't so thrilled with it's legs (or fins) wide open message (hence the premise for the old post). There was some email bantering about among the creatives at my agency when the news broke and amid the overall dislike of the logo, there were two main points that I agree with.

First, to many consumers, the name Starbucks and its typography in the green circle was as much, if not more so, the logo than the siren was. So eliminating the typography from the logo, while theoretically great for brand evolution, just doesn't seem to fit. The logo was developed internally at Starbucks, which could be some of the roadblock. I'm guessing the siren plays a much bigger part of their internal corporate identity than it does outside Starbucks' corporate walls. That's not to say the siren isn't identified with Starbucks identity, but it's just not was people remember and visualize when they think of the Starbucks logo in their head. Then again, maybe this decision was intended to change that perception.

Second, the siren by herself just doesn't hold her own. Okay, so Starbucks wanted an evolution of their logo for their 40th anniversary. They didn't want to go just Starbucks or Starbucks Coffee (the thought is this is because they plan to grow beyond coffee and continue to globalize—see the video below) so they went with the siren by herself. Some supporters of the logo point out that this is the epitome of a brand—when their identity can go completely visual with no type identifier. Think Apple or Nike. Starbucks kind of falls into that category, but not as well. It's not like people are not going to recognize the new mark, but it just doesn't have the same simplicity. The new logo should have an updated siren as well, especially considering the evolution of that part of the logo. Perhaps an updated siren with a simplification of the type (cut the words coffee?) for an eventual simplification to a logo only? Just a thought.

I don't think the new logo is going to hurt Starbucks. Indeed, I think most people have already forgotten about the redesign uproar, but I don't think it was quite the right move. It is rather uninspired and needs more simplification to really stand on it's own.

What do you think of the new Starbucks logo? Love it? Hate it?

*Also, check out this video from Starbucks introducing the new logo: