Starbucks New Logo

Starbucks announced they will be launching a new logo to commemorate their 40th Anniversary. Yes, 40 years! The new logo/icon/mark or whatever you want to call it, focuses on the famous brand’s mermaid by removing all complimentary type. Does it work? I am not sure yet, I guess I’ll have to see more than a cup in order to give an opinion or judge it. Wonder if hardcore Starbuckers end up hating it and killing it like those Tropicana freaks ;) I keed!

Below is a brief interview available with Terry Davenport, Starbucks’ svp, marketing available at explaining the redesign…


AdweekMedia: What are your marketing plans for Starbucks’ 40th anniversary?

Terry Davenport: It’s a big year for Starbucks; we’re 40 years old and going into the new year we have big news this week as we unveil our new brand identity. Ten months ago (Starbucks’ chief executive) Howard Schultz grabbed a handful of us in his office and said, “Next March, let’s make a big idea, a big statement for our (employee) partners and our customers.” That resonated among our most frequent (loyalty card) customers and we got encouraging response from them when we asked about changing the logo and about the 40th anniversary.

Q: Tell us about the new logo.

A: One of the unique things about Starbucks is that it has a large internal creative studio; 85 percent of the work was done in-house and then we reached out to (design and brand strategists) Lippincott for the global rollout. The logo has been about the same as in 1992 when Starbucks went public, with 165 stores. With this anniversary, we’ve created a brand identity that looks backward and forward. We separated the siren from the word ring and are keeping the wording “Starbucks Coffee” separate. It’s a nod to the future as we see our brand play in different categories both at retail and in CPG.

Q: How big was the challenge of modifying an iconic mark, given the negative reaction consumers had with the recent redesign of another well-known logo for the Gap?

A: Obviously with a brand with such a huge profile as Starbucks, we approach this change very sensitively. We actually explored a very wide range of options and when we stood back and looked from afar as well as looked close, we all unanimously gravitated toward the images that freed the siren from the word mark. We really took inspiration from companies like Nike where at one point they separated the word “Nike” from the “swoosh” in their logo. This allows us to bring our identity to life anytime and anywhere. You’ll see it as we apply it to our white cups that will be showing up in stores around the 40th anniversary.

Q: You’ll be breaking new advertising from BBDO in March. Will the messaging be built around the anniversary?

A: Clearly BBDO is a critical global partner which is very involved in the brand strategy that led to the new brand expression. We’ve worked side by side to create a comprehensive one voice/one feel to everything the brand does. While these anniversaries seem like a big thing internally, we found that our customers are not so concerned about it. So we may have a little nod to our 40th, but we’ll mostly be celebrating our partners, customers and the role of the brand going forward.

Q: Will it incorporate new positioning, a new tagline or new creative?

A: You’ll see some of all of that involved. A lot will look fresh by putting the new identity with it. We have a pretty unique brand offering that in conjunction with our traditional media advertising, we can leverage our leadership in social media and digital. Three to four years ago, if you were writing about us, you wouldn’t have said we were a leading brand in social media and digital, but we’re now the No. 1 brand by a lot of sources. We’ve become a leader in social media and in the digital space, and with our Starbucks Rewards program we continue to grow in how we engage with customers. We have a million registered cardholders. So we have an ongoing conversation with consumers in social media and the digital space and with our cardholders.

Q: How has the brand’s positioning changed over the past two to three years, particularly in the economic downturn?

A: The last two years have been turbulent times for any brand and particularly for retail brands. We’ve used this time to really listen to our customers and to provide them the Starbucks experience even more consistently, and we’ve used this time to look beyond the downturn and focus on becoming a growth brand. We’re a pretty unique brand. On one hand, we’re a retail (store) concept. The Starbucks experience is a big part of our brand and it has become a big brand in the consumer marketplace in retail stores and as a packaged-goods product sold in other venues. One of the things that is unique to Starbucks is our 200,000 (employee) partners worldwide. They are the face of the brand and our brand ambassadors.

Q: How is product development changing at Starbucks?

A: We’ll stay close to our brand equity; there’s only so far you can move beyond your roots. But already we have products that don’t contain coffee, like Starbucks Vanilla Bean Frappuccino Ice Cream and Soy Strawberries and Crème Frappuccino. We’ve freed up the brand as much as we’re freeing the siren.

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  1. Another brand ditches their wordmark. Nike, AT&T, now Starbucks. A trend that only the massive companies can accomplish.

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