By now you’ve probably heard that Starbucks has introduced a new logo, with intentions of moving into the realm of Apple and Nike — a logo without words. It’s a bold move, and one that not many companies have the brand equity to pull off – however, given Starbuck’s significant marketshare they are positioned better than most to make the leap. It is something that many brand advisors aspire to, so it’s not surprising that Starbucks is making the attempt.
Whatever you think of the new logo, the probable reasons for the change make sense. Imagine trying to operation an international brand that is limited by both English as an integral part of the logo and the word “coffee.” Although Starbucks has made a valiant effort toward being known for more than just coffee-expanding their stores to carry teas, hot chocolate, and food – they are still defined by their name and logo “Starbucks COFFEE.” While that may be part of their long term plan, they may also want the flexibility that would come from not being defined as “coffee.”
The new logo frees Starbucks to enter the world stage, unfettered by the constraints of their current logo. This lesson is an important one to consider if you do not yet have a logo you are regularly using – or are considering a name change. While your business is probably not big enough to go nameless – do consider the limitations that your logo and name require, and make sure you can live with those limitations. Words like “coffee” on a logo unnecessarily limit the brand to just…coffee.
If Starbucks had a long view of their brand twenty or even ten years ago, they would have taken the step at that time to minimize the definition of their business by “coffee.” They would have instead focused on the Third Place, which is at its heart what the Starbucks brand stands for. It’s a broader definition that allows them to branch out to tea, food, and whatever other brand extensions they choose to consider in the future.
So love it or hate it, the new Starbucks logo takes a long-overdue step toward allowing Starbucks the freedom they need to see their brand into the next era, with coffee as a component, but not the sole component of their future.