Starbucks Chairman, President and CEO Harold Schultz just sent me an email showing the company’s updated logo. Mind you, all they did was remove the word circle that says Starbucks Coffee and change the color of the mermaid–oh, wait, he called her a siren–from black to green.
Why the change? “Our new brand expression [he means logo] reflects our evolving freedom and flexibility to serve and connect with our customers in meaningful ways while continuing to represent the integrity, quality and consistency of the Starbucks Experience,” his email said.
Huh? Blah. Blah. Blah.
I don’t drink coffee, yet I adore Starbucks. Well, their iced, venti, unsweetened, no added water, black tea, anyway. Here’s how I wish he’d described the new logo launch, and I have a sneaky feeling my version is closer to the truth, too.
“Starbucks turns 40 this year. Our logo is almost 20 years old. It’s tired. We’re tired of looking at it, and we figure you might be, too. So we’ve simplified and freshened it up a bit. We love it and hope you do, too.”
One of my favorite books on branding is A New Brand World, by Scott Bedbury, who was senior vice president of marketing at Starbucks from 1995 to 1998. Prior to that he spent 7 years as head of advertising for Nike, where he launched the “Bo Knows” and “Just Do It” campaigns.
I know Scott would have handled the new Starbucks logo differently. Do you remember what the smallest cup size used to be called? A Short. It’s now called a Tall, with medium being Grande and large is a Venti. Starbucks decided that if they’re going to charge that much money for a small cup of coffee, customers would feel better ordering a Tall. Hence the change in semantics.
Well, when it came time to launch the new lingo, Scott had a great idea for the announcement: Starbucks Drops Its Shorts! No, the Powers That Be wouldn’t let him do it. But you gotta admit, it’s a whole lot clearer (and more clever) than the new logo’s corporate-speak.