Starbucks rebranding long before they changed the logo

Starbucks rebranding long before they changed the logo

Count me in as one of the few who actually thinks Starbucks’ new logo is great. I love it. I like how they boldly did away with the name, but didn’t touch anything else. I love how at first glance the iconic cup doesn’t really look all that much different.

Yes, I really, really like it as both a design and its alignment with their business strategy. What I’m not so sure of is Starbucks’ actual business strategy. Is continuously stretching its brand into other areas — music, web publishing, food, other types of drinks and breakfast items — a good idea? That’s a heavier question than an outsider like me can handle. But you have to ask what’s next? Who knows, but the identity re-design is a clear indication that there’s more non-coffee items on their horizon and it sets them up perfectly to venture into whatever they want without fencing themselves in as Starbucks Coffee.

Several years ago after the iPod went from must-have to everyone-has, Apple quietly removed the word Computers from its brand name. They had a plan that the desktop computer wouldn’t exactly be their core focus moving forward.

That’s clearly and officially what Starbucks is doing and making a statement about now. They’re continuing to stretch what it is they offer to the folks who stop in to their “third place.” Where does that come to bite them? Who knows. For Apple it hasn’t happened yet. Of course I’d argue that the only real brand extension for Apple has been their venture into the music-selling industry. Otherwise, every device they launch is essentially an evolution of the personal computer. Starbucks’ march into different directions isn’t so evolutionary to their original core product.

But wait a minute, maybe it is. Perhaps its never really been about the coffee. It really is more about the sense of community that you experience in one of their shops. That meeting place. That third place between home and office. Selling newspapers and breakfast sandwiches only keeps you around. The same can be said for the free wi-fi and the web publishing platform that they’re now offering.

The coffee maker has never had a problem with its brand identity and design — whether it be their identity or their interior design. Part of their visual success has been the fact that they’re everywhere. In many respects repetition breeds great design. The most memorable and oftentimes successful designs are those that we see most often — whether or not their really visually appealing. After all, you’re techno-color dreamcoat isn’t all that brilliant if the lights are turned out, right?

Contrary to what many designers may think, Starbucks isn’t in the business of creating revolutionary designs and logos. It’s also not in the business of pleasing everyone with visual re-design. If they know what they’re doing, they’re not sitting there wondering if everyone’s going to like their new logo. Instead, they’re contemplating whether or not the new mark aligns with the vision and direction of the company.

As far as aligning with that vision and direction, I think they nailed it. Now only time will tell if it’s the right vision and direction.


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