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Starbucks launches new, controversial logo

March 30, 2011

Starbucks has launched a fresh, wordless logo this spring. The company decided on its 4th and newest logo after looking at companies like Nike Inc. and Apple Inc., which had earned the clout with consumers to drop the words from their logos and decided to drop the company’s name and “coffee” from the logo altogether.

This bold change has been met with a lot of controversy.  Within hours of the new logo, fans were commenting on the Starbucks web site and social media outlets.  One fan said, “Removing the Starbucks name off your logo does not make any sense. I have been a big supporter of Starbucks since the early days, taken expensive rides in taxis to get my morning coffee, even waded through two feet of snow in my business suit. I do not see the logic of your business development folks. Free advertisement on every cup, every day. Think about it.”

However, Starbucks and its CEO, Howard Shultz, are sticking behind the new logo.  “What is really important here is an evolutionary refinement of the logo, which is a mirror image of the strategy,” said Schultz.  “This is not just, let’s wake up one day and change our logo.”

The company feels that its prior logos built Starbucks into one of the wold’s best recognized brands, and feels that it no longer needs to reinforce its name everywhere.  Starbucks feels its fresh logo will help the company expand beyond coffee and into more international markets and marketing professionals agree.  “The brand is now evolving to a point where the coffee association is too confining and restrictive,” said John Quelch, a marketing professor at Harvard Business School. “Starbucks is fundamentally selling an experience, but by no means is coffee the only part of the experience. It is important that they not have a logo that is too confining.”

What do you think of Starbucks new logo?  Do you think it will stick?

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