Why the New Starbucks Logo Isn’t as Crazy as You Think It Is

Every morning I roll out of bed, jump in the shower, and go grab my Starbucks and Wall Street Journal. I am always thinking about the promotional products industry when I’m reading over my WSJ because there are so many different daily articles that relate to the industry in some way or another (like which companies are acting like complete idiots with their marketing and promotions and which companies are doing an extraordinary job).

The article that really struck my interest in the past couple weeks was about the new plan that Starbucks has for their logo. Having a quality logo is such an important part of a company’s success and Starbucks obviously recognizes this. Throughout the years they have changed their logo several times but the newest version is different from anything else they’ve done in the past.

Starbucks wants their logo to truly represent what their company is all about and how things are changing. The company has had to deal with some huge issues, including a rash of closed stores. They were expanding so rapidly for a couple years that there were Starbucks stores everywhere; after awhile, you couldn’t go a block in a big city without seeing a Starbucks! They had jumped the gun and opened up way too many shops (which means they didn’t make desirable profits once the competition got tougher) and eventually the new stores struggled. So, of course, the company had to start shutting down stores rapidly.

What’s my point? Well, when Starbucks started to struggle, they needed to think of a new strategy to answer to all of the new competition they were facing. They knew that they had an expensive product compared to their competitors, so they needed to think of some new areas to gain revenue. Their strategy was to offer their coffee in retail stores and supermarkets, and they also offered an assortment of other products that weren’t coffee. This new strategy gained traction and started to become successful…which brings me to my main point.

The new Starbucks logo - notice the absence of the "Starbucks Coffee" text

The new Starbucks logo – notice the absence of the “Starbucks Coffee” text

Recently, Starbucks decided to push their new strategy even further by featuring a logo that better represents them at this point in time: they changed their logo to eliminate the green circle that says “Starbucks Coffee” on it, leaving only the signature “siren” (commonly referred to as a mermaid). It’s a simpler logo to go along with a simple (although effective) strategy! Will removing the “Starbucks Coffee” from their items help associate them with more than just coffee, or will it confuse people? Only time will tell if this logo switch is a good move for their marketing efforts…

Part of me thinks it could be a mistake because this logo was with them when they were the most successful – after all, the words coffee and Starbucks go hand in hand! However, it’s also a bold move that could pay off if they continue to sell MORE than just coffee. What do you think of the change Starbucks is making? Are they making a mistake by changing such an easily-recognizable logo?

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  1. Jill Tooley

    You make some good points, Joe! Personally, I’m a huge fan of the Starbucks logo change and I don’t understand why people are getting so pissed off about it. I’m not obsessed with Starbucks like many people I know, but I’ve been seeing their logo for so many years that I automatically associate that siren with the company anyway…so it only makes sense that they’d eliminate the “Starbucks Coffee” and keep that. Come on, you can’t tell me that customers are suddenly going to forget about Starbucks just because their name is missing from the logo!

    They’re kind of flaunting their popularity by doing this…almost as if to say: “Hey, we don’t need any text to tell you where to go for coffee! We’re Starbucks!” This was bold on their part, but I think that if any company can pull it off, Starbucks can! 🙂

  2. Scooby DOO!

    Bad Idea for many reasons but the least of not which that logo, if you never paid attention to it, is line art of a non product descriptive woman. To me it looks like a mermaid, which does nothing for describing coffee. If it was a coffee cup with an SB on it, then go for it. Apple’s logo is an apple, ok, that makes sense. Nike’s is a swoosh, which is not a drawing, just a swoosh, ok, that makes sense. But a mermaid queen?? Bad idea. I HOPE DD makes a voice-over commercial that pokes fun at the change some day.

  3. LK

    I think one of the great things Starbucks is doing, is explaining the change on their website. If you go to they have a video of WHY they are doing it. I think this is a good move and will help keep consumers open to the idea of a new logo. A few companies have failed lately in changing their logo or look (Gap & Tropicana) and I think Starbucks is recognizing this and addressing it before it is an issue. GO STARBUCKS!

  4. KB

    I’m all for the change. Not being a coffee or tea drinker, until recently I had never even tried a Starbucks product. It wasn’t until with a friend that I decided to try one of their non-coffee beverages and now am addicted to the Double Chocolatey Chip Creme. It’s semi-sweet chocolate makes it better than a chocolate shake. With all of the options a coffee drinker gets – Different Flavors with Whole, Soy, 2%, Nonfat, Whip, Light Whip, Chocolate Drizzle or Not, I can completely customize it. Starbucks caters to more than just coffee drinkers and I think taking that angle is a great move. Not to mention that the siren is already so well known, people won’t need the words Starbucks Coffee to know where the cup came from. Would you need the words McDonald’s under the golden arches? Remove the words and even if it’s slight its an attempt to market to a much broader audience. I’m a converted Starbucks (Not-Coffee) Fan!

  5. Vernon

    I have heard so many people complaining you would think it was on the same level as the new Netflix change. If this change would have been done w/out public knowledge nobody would have noticed.

  6. Joseph Giorgi

    The removal of the text from their logo is a very interesting move. I’m not sure whether the logo itself will be able to retain the iconic presence of the brand without the actual name attached to it. The terms “Starbucks” and “coffee” definitely go hand in hand, and I’m not sure why they would risk lessening (or weakening) that association. Then again, they probably have their reasons.

  7. Alex

    If I saw their logo with out the text around it, I would have no idea it was for Starbucks….I assume others wouldn’t recognize it either, unless you are a big Starbucks fan. That being said I think removing the “Starbucks Coffee” from the logo could definitely help them expand past the coffee industry….nice blog joey, roll tide.

  8. Becky Gatch

    I think they just changed it so it would be a one color imprint to save money on printing -LOL! I personally could care less about their logo – as long as they serve the same ridiculously strong coffee products – what does it really matter? If you are a Starbucks fan…you will recognize it.

    • Jill Tooley

      Haha! Becky, I thought about that as well! A one-color imprint would give them a larger variety of products to choose from… 😉

  9. Bret Bonnet

    I think this is a poor decision for several reasons:

    a.) COST – it’s very important to have a UNIFIED brand image. Changing the logo on some products and not everything is only going to dilute the effectiveness of the brand. I’d hate to be there once the bill arrives in the mail after all the costly store updates and printing has been retooled and redone.

    b.) EFFECTIVENESS – I’m with Scooby Doo; as he pointed out:

    “(the) logo, if you never paid attention to it, is line art of a non product descriptive woman.”

    … the logo by it’s lonesome does NOTHING to describe what product is being sold. I’ve spent my fair share of days/nights in a Starbucks, and despite my above average exposure to their logo, I have to say, I never really paid attention to the contents of the green circle (the mermaid queen), and without the text “Starbucks Coffee” below it, I would not recognize this logo when/if driving down the road.

    I think the BETTER route would have been to create a new brand or product line entirely for their non coffee products – something that would not result in lost brand loyalty. Will it be easy? No? But in this day in age where one customer’s voice can destroy an empire with the click of a mouse, I think it would be wise to listen to customers and kiss this new logo goodbye.

    … the moral of today’s story? Design a great logo… and STICK WITH IT! 🙂

    PS. When/if/after Starbucks fires their CMO over this fiasco… I’m available – JK! 🙂

  10. Kyle

    That’s an interesting move on their part. I suppose it simplifies their logo a bit, but at the same time, as stated before, they are going to have to update all of their stores, merchandise, etc. Although I am not a coffee drinker I could point out the Starbucks logo even without the words “Starbucks” or “Coffee” since I’ve seen so many stores pop up just about everywhere.

    I think it’s a somewhat risky move, but hey it has people buzzing about the change so that’s just more attention for them and their product. They must have an idea of what they’re doing to have come along this far so I’m sure they have more than justified this change, but I suppose time will only tell…

  11. POS Paper

    My feelings is that it is a bad move. “Starbucks” the actual name is much more popular where as something like the Nike Swoosh would be a logo that you could associate with the company without the name because the logo is part of the product your are buying. why do i buy starbucks, the taste, why do i buy nike, because i associate quality with the logo on my shoes.

  12. Jack

    Howdy! I just would like to give an enormous thumbs up for the good data you will have here on this post. I shall be coming back to your blog soon.

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