Thoughts on a “new” Starbucks

StarbucksA little over a week ago, Starbucks Coffee Company released a new logo in honor of its 40th anniversary celebration.  As a longtime Starbucks enthusiast and student of marketing, I’m positive toward this new logo. It maintains three elements of the original logo: 1) the siren 2) the circular design 3) ‘Starbucks green’ — all three are crucial to the Starbucks logo, whether or not the name of the company encircles the siren. If you were to look at all of the trademark infringement suits Starbucks has launched as well as generic pictograms of coffee cups, they all resemble the Starbucks logo (much the way mp3 pictograms tend to resemble the iPod, smartphones tend to resemble BlackBerrys, etc.).

I’m not sure if I necessarily agree with Howard Schultz’s comments about moving the new logo direction being emblematic of a shift from the core of quality coffee. On this matter, it will be an uphill battle to rein in brand dilution while not sacrificing the core product, anymore than Nike has struggled to become a premier global equipment brand for football(soccer). And to that matter, the swoosh has global ubiquitousness. Starbucks has grand dreams of ice cream ventures and the likes, but will face massive backlash if it strays too far. The new logo would then represent the downfall of Starbucks as a quality brand.

Where the new logo will succeed is by better representing Starbucks in global, non-English speaking markets. As the Asian markets are heavily picking up their coffee intake (over tea), the ability to reach out to them with a sleeker logo will be all the more crucial. The shift to pure imagery will help Starbucks out in that brand recognition aspect, both at home and more importantly, abroad.

All in all, it seems to be a positive move in various regards, but as recently seen with Gap (though Gap’s rebrand was a different, crowd-sourced case), this momentous event should be regarded cautiously over the next couple of years.