Several weeks ago, Starbucks opened up its logo creation to all graphic designers across the world.  What a tribute and acknowledgment to the talent and creativity that can be found in even the smallest of graphic designers. The company chose a winner and celebrated their 40th birthday at the same time.

Why did Starbucks even decide to change their logo? It was based primarily on the theory that they needed to change their brand identity, whether it was pre-emptive or re-active, they did it. The main theory seemed that they felt their logo was a bit tired and the new competitors on the block seemed a lot cooler.

Starbucks knows that even by changing their logo, they would not change what they did for the consumers.  Their logo may change, but their brand and what they stand for did not.

Starbucks coffee new logo

Photo by faqman


The logo now solely focuses on the mermaid image. They have chosen to remove the company name around the outer circle of the image. Why take the name of the company out of the Logo?  It seems to be a trend; taking a brand with a recognized symbol and removing the brand name. But why would a company do this?  First, by removing words you avoid multi language use problems and this helps your branding.

In addition, this theory seems to create a more emotional connection to the brand.  For example, take Kentucky Fried Chicken. Consumers are more likely to draw a connection to warm Colonel Sanders than to the callous Kentucky Fried Chicken text.

Further, it helps if the company or business already has a visual to the company that the consumer is aware of. For example, Starbucks has the mermaid; Shell has the shell; KFC has the Colonel and so on. This makes for a brand to be more confident, solid, secure.

It takes many years of branding before a company can reach a point to be recognized by a symbol only. Starbucks has put in their time with their previous logo and the average consumer still knows that image even if the words “Starbucks Coffee” are no longer within the image.

It would seem, however, that today the vast majority of logos still use the name of the company in the logo; in fact, according to research, its 8 out of 10 businesses and companies. These companies realize that if their name is not spelled out in their logo their consumer may not know what and who they are and there is a large possibility they will lose business because of it.

On the flip side, the reverse is true of brands that have lost their way and go back to the text only logo.  Kodak and Yahoo have had their share of problems recently. They both reverted their logos back to their name instead of for example, the Y! for Yahoo.

The jury is still out on the Starbucks new logo. One thing is for sure, the company is moving forward through their rebranding process. Maybe it’s time we take a look at your brand and logo and see if it needs to be spiced up?

Photo by faqman on Flickr