Thursday, January 6, 2011

The first brand identity move of 2011

We're only six days into the new year and already we have a brand identity change--and this one is a doozy.

Starbucks announced that they are removing the words "Starbucks coffee" from the company's logo as part of their effort to build their consumer packaged goods business. The old logo featured the Starbucks mermaid with the words "Starbucks Coffee" ringing the visual. The new logo features the mermaid, still in circle format, but with no wording or copy.

The move was announced by Chief Executive Howard Schultz yesterday. Schultz noted that Starbucks is and will always be a coffee company and retailer, but that this move provides greater flexibility to introduce products which are not coffee-related.

We can only hope that the brands which change identity in 2011 are more successful than the notable missteps from 2010, e.g., Gap, Pepsico's Tropicana, and the Big Ten's "Legends and Leaders" divisions. Personally, I think Starbucks' decision is a sound one given the business strategy behind the move coupled with the changing face of Starbucks' business. And, the move mirrors a decision made years ago by another notable brand--anyone remember the shift from the swoosh coupled with "Nike" to the swoosh only? That brand has managed to be relevant, successful and, most importantly, identified by consumers even with its minimalist approach to its brand I.D.

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