Starbucks’ Nip Tuck

The Siren Takes Centre Stage

I have a very special place in my heart for this brand. In a former life in London, Starbucks saved me, and I don’t mean in a ‘morning coffee’ kinda way. Two days into London I knocked on the door of a minuscule recruitment agency in Putney and left an hour later with a temporary job at Sbux, as she’s affectionately known amongst those within circle of trust. Job: tick.

I’d read Pour Your Heart Into It by CEO Howard Schultz as a student and was intrigued by the inner workings of the coffee beast. I wanted to know if Howie practiced what he preached and if he really did put his partners (that’s Starbucks for staff) before the customer. My months at Starbucks HQ rank amongst the best of my career, not because I got paid a ridiculous amount or sipped on Frappuccinos all day, but because partners really are treated like family and coffee truly runs through the veins of the organisation. Twice daily the entire company would gather into teams for espresso tastings, paired with delicious and sometimes exotic foods. Ironically the only blend I could ever identify blind was the Kenyan roast. I blamed my inability to identify anything else on my roots.

I was surprised to hear last week that the logo and its iconic siren would be undergoing some major nip/tuck,  commemorating 40 years as the leading purveyor of coffee. Here’s what Schultz had to say about dropping the words ‘Starbucks’ and ‘Coffee’ and the evolution of the Starbucks logo, courtesy of www.starbucks.com:


[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4eWHWZ3JZY[/youtube]

Schultz adds, “As we look forward to Starbucks next chapter, we see a world in which we are a vital part of over 16,000 neighborhoods around the world, in more than 50 countries, forming connections with millions of customers every day in our stores, in grocery aisles, at home and at work. Starbucks will continue to offer the highest-quality coffee, but we will offer other products as well – and while the integrity, quality and consistency of these products must remain true to who we are, our new brand identity will give us the freedom and flexibility to explore innovations and new channels of distribution that will keep us in step with our current customers and build strong connections with new customers.”

Senior Creative Manager at Starbucks, Mike P. had this to say, “From the start, we wanted to recognize and honor the important equities of the iconic Starbucks logo. So we broke down the four main parts of the mark – color, shape, typeface and the Siren. After hundreds of explorations, we found the answer in simplicity. Removing the words from the mark, bringing in the green, and taking the Siren out of her ring. For forty years she’s represented coffee, and now she is the star.

The details came next. The 20-year old logo was built in the early days of AutoTrace and it showed – points everywhere. We improved composition, brought in more sophisticated stroke width and spacing and a smoother line flow. When it came to her – the Siren – we enhanced her form in subtle ways, smoothing her hair, refining her facial features, weighting the scales on her tail to bring the focus to her face. We enlisted the branding firm of Lippincott to help with these refinements, and give us a better global perspective on the entire identity system.”

My initial knee-jerk reaction was a negative one, but the more I see and the more I digest, the more the new siren and logo-sans-words appeals. I’m actually surprised that Starbucks has only had 4 iterations of its logo in the 40 years it’s been operating. As long as Starbucks maintains its core values, I can handle a little nip/tuck every 10 years.

What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

brandslut xoxo

3 Comments

    1. For the love of goodness. Did Howard miss the GAP logo disaster last year? This is an iconic logo, and iconic brand – don’t mess with it. And stick to coffee, it’s what you do well.

      Not to mention that 9 out of 10 people don’t even know that there is a long haired statue-esq woman on the inside of the Starbucks logo – so someone help Howard if he thinks there’s brand recognition there.

      Change is not always good!

      1. Gap’s logo change was truly abysmal, and I’m glad the public outcry forced the bigwigs to reverse their decision. I suppose whether you like the new Starbucks logo or not is a matter of opinion and there will be many haters in this instance, there always are. I agree that not all change is good, enter the recent Cell C rebrand. But sometimes it works, as is the case with Pick n Pay, Woolworths, and in my opinion, Starbucks.

    1. I agree Ms Slut. It seems to me that although it may be an expensive exercise initially, it does indeed make people look at the brand again, which is, I guess, the point. I like that the brand is so well recognized that they don’t need to write the name any more.

      Great article xox

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