Starbucks Successfully Simplifies Their Brand

I’ve been reading a lot of opinions about the new Starbucks logo so I figured I’d offer my thoughts on the subject as well. Starbucks is one of those big brands that nearly everyone in the world is familiar with. No matter what your opinion of the company or the flavor of their coffee, you know who they are, and most likely, there’s one around the corner from you.

The new design and loss of the words “Starbucks Coffee” is a smart move, in my opinion. The logo mark has been cleaned up a bit and I love how the focus now seems to be the happy, smiling face of the siren. It’s also nice to see that the logo has been stripped down to one color, their iconic green. It’s similar to the way that a brand like Target owns red or Tiffany has their blue. If you saw someone walking down the street in a green apron you could easily assume they’re on their way to work at Starbucks.

The new logo now reminds me of the new Girl Scouts rebranding, one of my favorites of last year. To say that they were in need of a rebrand could is a slight understatement. Now looking at the new logo next to it’s previous incarnation it seems so… mid-90’s. The type set in a series of four circles is extremely noisy and clunky and with the removal of the black the logo seems so pure.

Is this a groundbreaking redesign? No, thank god. But it’s a successful progression of a symbol that’s ubiquitous with the word coffee.


15 Comments Starbucks Successfully Simplifies Their Brand

  1. Ellen January 7, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    I heard a lot of outrage about this logo redesign, but honestly it’s nothing to freak out about. They streamlined it a little but it’s still clearly recognizable based on what it was before. If I wasn’t looking at the logos side by side, I’m not sure I’d even notice it had changed. People get very attached to things I guess!

  2. Nitzan January 7, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    Nice comments — loosing the brand name is a smart move. Looking at the customers at eye level — not over pushing the brand and keeping things subtle. Will def pay off in the long run.

  3. Dave O. January 7, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    As a cost-cutting measure, its very practical to change a two-color design to one. Personally, I would have put a thin outline around the new logo to help ground all those open-ended waves in the bottom half. I might have also re-added a saucy hint of breast (sans nipples) in reference to their original logo. Still, I agree that it is a good re-branding.

  4. Cat January 7, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    Totally agree. That siren is so strongly associated with the starbucks name, it almost felt redundant having both in there. This is so much cleaner and more polished.

  5. Ryan Snelson January 7, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    Nice breakdown. I think the end goal for most brands is to have a simple logotype (sans type) that people immediately recognize. Check the creepy burka version for Saudi Arabia (bottom right)

  6. Holly January 7, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    As someone who has never set foot in a starbucks (I hate hate hate the smell and taste of coffee), I associated the brand with the distinctive typographical element in the logo, the siren was always an afterthought to me. I always loved the logo and brand despite hating the product but it has really lost something for me and just looks like a very generic ‘truck stop coffee’ logo in my eyes.

  7. J Dubbs January 7, 2011 at 9:05 PM

    i think it’s a smart move as well. especially after all these rumors that starbucks are going to expand into other areas (wine?? bar?? did anyone hear that too?), Starbucks is not just going to be coffee anymore.

  8. Phil January 8, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    I am confident that’s why they changed the logo. Allowing them to expand into more markets that are not necessarily related to coffee. Just like Facebook changing its interface, people will freak out at the start, but learn to love it and forget the old.

  9. tibere January 9, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    so much better like this, less pretentious

  10. Justin January 10, 2011 at 2:34 AM

    Simplifies their logo, yes.

    Simplifies their brand – how have they done that?

  11. dan January 10, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    i agree. the girlscouts logo was the first thing i thought of, too. but i like the shift. the most recognizable logos will be reduced to mark only. and i’m okay with that.

  12. uxdrew March 7, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    The move makes sense and seems “smart,” but I can’t really say I like it.

    The typography and the enclosed “badge” shape were part of what I loved about the old logo. The last vestiges of retro charm are now gone and it might as well be McDonald’s now. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, and come to associate it with whatever addictive ingredient is keeping me hooked on their chai, but I’m not a fan yet.

    I like it much better than the Girl Scout logo update, though. Even if I thought there was a need to make the logo seem “younger” (the softened hairlines, the noses, the lowercase wordmark), the “asterisk” placement of the trefoil doesn’t feel better to me. Fortunately I don’t have to look at the Girl Scout logo more than once a year, and then only long enough to open a box of cookies.

    Judging by how out of step I am with other comments, though, I guess it’s good that I’m not a logo designer, just a member of the fan club. :)

  13. uxdrew March 8, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    Postscript: I stopped in for a chai today and checked out some of the ways they’re using the new logo, and I’m warming to it a bit. I still don’t like the green-on-white version used on the paper cups, and the white-on-green version for the plastic cups is almost worse. But it looks fabulous in silver-on-white for some of their current promotions, and losing the wordmark now allows them to use the partial logo where appropriate (e.g. on the cardboard cup sleeves). I’ll still miss the old logo but no scare quotes needed around the word smart. The new version has so many advantages it seems practically inevitable.

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