Branding: Names and Logos Count
What’s in a name? Would that which we call Starbucks by any other name still smell like Pikes Place ® Roast? For Starbucks customers and fans, this isn’t an insignificant question. Since CEO Harold Schultz announced the upcoming logo changes to commemorate its fortieth anniversary. Hundreds have voiced their opinions (mostly negative) on a variety of sites and social media forums.
While Starbucks’ management may be bored with its logo and, in a nutshell, is choosing to go the path of Nike’s swish by leaving their green mermaid unbanded and nameless, its customers have a true connection to the global brand that’s taught the world to make their cup of joe, a high-priced, premium experience. This, at its core, is what Trout and Ries argued for in their pre-social media marketing classic, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind since 72% of consumers surveyed by ZURB, an interaction design and strategy agency, actually “hate” Starbucks’ new logo.
Do logos, names and other symbols really matter to consumers as Trout and Ries argued? Otherwise, why do we still need Starbucks’ green mermaid encircled with the words “Starbucks Coffee” to reinforce our brand association? Or, the café’s unique patois for ordering dry skinny venti lattes to show our verbal connection? Or, our never-empty Starbucks cards to allow us to lose track of our liquid indulgences expenses? Is it just the free WiFi allowing us to escape our cramped apartments and work remotely that compells us to seek out the nicely equipped coffee shops?
From a branding perspective, Starbucks has three important attributes:
- Has a strong emotional attachment.
- Is identified with a quality product.
- Delivers a consistent experience regardless of location.
Like a middle-aged adult afraid of losing her looks, Starbucks is expanding its horizons starting with a logo facelift. Its competitors McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts have kept their brands consistent while expanding their product offering to compete with Starbucks’ high margin specialty coffee.
Yet the reality is that there’s more to Starbucks than just coffee. It’s about the experience. Starbucks has moved out of the café and into the supermarket with whole beans, Via instant coffee, and ice cream as well as hospitality services to hotels and airlines. Starbucks’ music CDs filled with remixed songs is a major offline music purveyor. And don’t forget their refillable cash cards that could be extended to other financial products.
Starbucks why are you getting rid of your name? Are you entering the brand witness protection program? Didn’t you learn anything from the Gaps’ brand fiasco? Take a tip from me: Names and logos do matter. Parents, like marketers, spend lots of time pondering monikers trying to envision how it will set the course for their child. At it’s core, this was the challenge that Romeo and Juliet faced; the destiny of their names.
So why would Starbucks want to change the identifying aspect of its brand and name association? Unlike the Nike swoosh, the Starbucks mermaid is detailed and not necessarily associated with coffee. Starbucks, instead of changing your logo to celebrate your fortieth anniversary, why not tap into your loyal fan base and find out what they want from you?
If you were part of Starbucks’ marketing team what would you recommend and why? What do you think Starbucks should do to maintain its fans’ loyalty?
- Paul Biedermann – When It Comes to Logos, It’s Always Open Season
- Olivier Blanchard – Farewell to an Old Friend: The Starbucks Cup of Coffee
- Harvard Business Review – Starbuck’ New Logo – Welcome Refresh
- Tom Moradpour – Don’t Change Your Logo, Change Your Story
- Patrick Prothe – Who’s Identity Is It Anyway?
- What Ice Cream Sundaes and Starbucks Via Have in Common