Wednesday, January 5, 2011

White with(out) one: Starbucks redesigns their logo

So Starbucks has a new logo – minus the name and the word ‘coffee’ – and I seem to be experiencing a bit of déjà vu (anyone sick of hearing about the Gap debacle?)

The interesting thing here is that the public, through the advent of social media, now think they have a right to influence the logos of their favourite products. This clearly demonstrates the fundamental shift of control away from the marketers and into the hands of the audience. But can too much power corrupt? I think that if a brand mark has a sound strategy behind it, is it merely a fear of change that makes some die-hard brand fans react negatively (or is the strategy not so sound if it doesn’t resonate with customers)? Realistically, taking the ‘Starbucks’ off the logo is not going to affect the drinking experience of those already ambassadors for the Starbucks brand. The danger will come from the company trying to stick their hands in too many pies, and as a result not to anything too well.

I recently attended ICOGRADA’s Design Week in Brisbane and listened to Blair Enns talk about the benefits of specialisation. Enns advocates deep specialisation, which results in less capacity to compare your offering to that of your competitors. If you are the best provider of coffee, and only coffee, clients will come to you for their coffee. But if you do coffee, biscuits, spoons and envelopes all reasonably well, consumers can choose to go to a specialist spoon supplier, or someone else who offers the same quality of spoons – you’ve just opened up your market to a much wider range of competitors.

Personally, I had the impression that Starbucks coffee was expensive and not all that good – if you’re a coffee purist (which I am not, I must admit – I prefer a good hot chocolate!). As such, I am almost inclined to think that the removal of the ‘Starbucks’ might work in their favour. They’ve already got a passionate existing customer base, the market is pretty saturated so they are unlikely to be attracting hoards of new customers just based on their brand, and if they are trying to diversify into new products, a bit of ambiguity might actually help remove the initial ‘Starbucks’ stigma.

Check out what Starbucks have to say.

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