Starbucks drops name from iconic logo

The coffee chain will remove the outer ring around the siren image to give the brand more global appeal.

By TheStreet Staff Jan 5, 2011 4:07PM

StarbucksTheStreetUpdated: 3:55 p.m. ET


By Miriam Reimer, TheStreet


Starbucks (SBUX) unveiled a new logo Wednesday that no longer includes the company’s name.


Starbucks' streamlined logo removes the outer green circle that bears the Starbucks Coffee name, enlarging the inner siren, sometimes referred to as a sea nymph, in the company's signature green hue.


In a video posted on the Starbucks Web site, CEO Howard Schultz talked about the decision to update its emblematic logo on the 40th anniversary of the company in March.


"This new evolution of the logo does two things that are very important," Schultz said. "It embraces and respects our heritage and at the same time evolves us to a point where we feel it's more suitable to the future."

The CEO pointed out that the original Starbucks logo was brown, but was changed to green in 1987. It has gone through two other small changes since then. But now "the world has changed and Starbucks has changed," he said.


"We've allowed her to come out of the circle in a way that I think gives us the freedom and flexibility to think beyond coffee," he said. "But make no mistake. We have been, we will continue to be, and we always will be the world's leading purveyor of the highest-quality coffee."


Starbucks said its brand is so ubiquitous it no longer needs to display its name around the logo in order for customers to recognize it. A logo without words also reflects Starbucks' expansion plans in China and other international markets.


The new logo is expected to be rolled out in stores in March.


Investors seemed unfazed by the news. Shortly before the market close, Starbucks shares edged 0.6% lower to $32.30 on Wednesday amid light trading.


Not all corporate redesigns have come about so smoothly.


Just a week after a clandestine unveiling of a new logo on its Web site, Gap (GPS) announced in October it was backing off its new design.


"Ultimately, we've learned just how much energy there is around our brand. All roads were leading us back to the blue box, so we've made the decision not to use the new logo on any further," said Marka Hansen, the president of Gap Brand North America, in a statement posted on the company's Web site.


Within a day, the design community had pounced, with vitriol and mockery exploding on blogs and on Twitter. As Bobby Solomon on art and design blog put it, "This is some shabby work. . . . There was a lot of brand equity in that big blue square and they didn't move far away enough from the source for this logo to even begin to feel new or exciting."


Then, with the backlash building, Gap bactracked. The company took to its Facebook page and Twitter and declared that it was "thrilled to see passionate debates (about the logo) unfolding! . . . So much so, we're asking you to share your designs. We love our version, but we'd like to see other ideas."


PepsiCo (PEP) had a similar blunder when it redesigned the packaging of its Tropicana Pure Premium orange-juice cartons. The lackluster redesign elicited private-label or generic supermarket-brand juice containers, not the iconic and well-loved Tropicana most consumers knew.


In February 2009, Pepsi executives admitted defeat and said they would bring back the look consumers really wanted -- the classic orange with a red-and-white-striped straw poking out.


Pepsi's SunChips brand even had to abandon its progressive, fully compostable bag, released last year, because consumers complained the bags were too noisy.


Clorox (CLX) unveiled its new logo in 2010 in what it called "the most dramatic change in its visual identity since 1957."


"Using an updated version of the company's iconic diamond mark, a brighter blue color and new accents of green, the logo better reflects the corporate brand today as it heads toward its centennial anniversary in 2013," the company said in a statement.

Customers didn't care too much. The bleach maker blamed sluggish demand when it said it would earn less than analysts had forecast in its fiscal second quarter.


Related Articles

Jan 5, 2011 8:19PM
Hey everybody! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!! I changed my logo! LOOK AT ME! Give me some free publicity on the internet because I changed my logo!! I LOOOVE FREE PUBLICITY! Anything that gets my ridiculously overpriced product on the news and on people's minds/lips! It strikes me as odd that people complain about paying $3/gallon for gas, but on the other hand have no problem dropping $4-$8 PER DAY on a 16oz cup of hot bean water and magically steamed milk with some hershey's syrup and a fancy sounding name. "I'd like a non-fat triple shot Grande tuxedo mocha, extra hot, with extra foam, cinnamon sprinkles and canned whip, please only fill it up 3/4th of the way too just to increase your profit margins.....Oh, can I have a flaky croissant and my manhood back while you're at it Mr. Barista?" They should just change the name to 'SixBucks' because that's what it costs everytime my wife %^*$%& goes there!
Jan 5, 2011 8:36PM

doesn't starbucks want to get recognized when all the people walk around with their lattes and frappachino whatevers? they should have kept the "old" logo. why spend more money and waste effort to make a new logo?? plus, what was wrong with it??

Jan 6, 2011 1:40PM
I hate the new bottle shape for 2 liter COKE products!  Refrigerator shelves were designed for 'standard' bottle shapes and sizes and the new 'curvy' shape easily falls (or gets knocked) over.  COKE - go back to the old design and save me headaches!
Jan 6, 2011 2:04AM
I do not think people will recognize this as being Starbucks.  Without the name, it looks like some generic knock-off symbol.  If the sign for the store does not say Starbucks I would probably pass right by it (and go to Dunkin Donuts).  If I saw this new symbol in the store I would think it was some generic knock-off brand.  I do not think Starbucks should change their symbol in English-speaking countries.  They are going to regret it here in the U.S., although perhaps an increase in sales in foreign markets will make up for lost revenue here?  But what do I know I only have multiple advanced degrees... 
Jan 6, 2011 12:51AM

The expense of this change would be better spent on hiring staff and decreasing cost.  What a bunch of chat over nothing.


Jan 5, 2011 9:38PM
I honestly don't think much of the logo change because I had to read the article to even know what the actual change was. I had a period where I frequented Starbucks because I was given a gift card, but it's too expensive for my coffee budget.  I prefer to brew at home, purchase flavored creamers, and save money. 
Jan 5, 2011 9:25PM
I think it's awesome.  Logo's that can stand out and be recognized without the actual company name says something.  Starbucks is recognizable enough that they don't need their name.  The icon they use has become ritualistic for some people.  Starbucks has built brand recognition with their logo that people can identify with and even connect with.  In my opinion this is the ultimate status quo for a company.  Think of all the companies that have reached this, McDonalds, Apple, Pepsi and so on.  All of these companies have a logo that has connected so deeply with the public that their name is secondary.  A logo change such as GAP recently is deadly, but adapting the Starbucks for their already massive fan base is a smart move!  Chelsie N. 
Jan 5, 2011 9:18PM

As a retired member of the Board of Directors of a company, I will ask the same question that I used to drive our sales and marketing people nuts: This is going to cost a lot  of money so show me how much more profit I will make and how soon will I have the return on the investment?


Changing the name or logo of a company usually signifies desperate senior management who are failing and grasping at straws to make themselves look good.


Business is all about PROFIT and this change will NOT increase profit.

Jan 5, 2011 8:24PM
The only reason I clicked on this stupid story was to see a photo of both logos side by side but NOOOOOOOOOO!  Light bulb
Jan 5, 2011 8:23PM
I think it looks like some generic company is trying to fool their customers into thinking they are getting Starbucks when they really aren't.  I hope it backfires in their big corporate faces!!  Other competitive companies do this all the time - look at any TV show where they change a label name or remove it altogether and barely alter the logo so they can get the point across.  Seems like a lot of money to spend and a way to raise their coffee prices to pay for it.  Visit your local coffee house, support the local economy or better yet, just make your own at home and save yourself some cash!!
Jan 5, 2011 7:38PM
I like how all the starbucks haters knock anyone for spending their own money on a cup of coffee... and then go on to tell them that it doesn't taste as good as some other thats why we have a market economy. If I choose to spend more on starbucks because I like the taste why does that concern you? I don't tell you that you have to have starbucks and quite frankly could give a rats a$$ if you buy generic coffee instead, you know why? Cause I'm not the one drinking are!
Jan 5, 2011 7:27PM
One of the reasons could be that it's cheaper to print.
Jan 5, 2011 6:54PM
Some people can't leave a good thing alone.  It's all about the money.  Cheaper to produce this new lego. Really ugly !!!!
Jan 5, 2011 6:49PM
I think people are going to complain and complain until they change it back, just like what happened with Gap
Jan 5, 2011 8:46PM
All Star Bucks cares about is a billion people in China buying their junk. There is plenty of places to get a good cup of coffee without paying their high prices.
Jan 5, 2011 8:58PM
Thumbs downIt looks like a cheap imitation of Star Bucks from China. Very bad change. Hope the Coffee quality doesn't go down as a logo...Coffee cupSleepy
Jan 6, 2011 3:21AM

My first feeling is the logo without company name is ugly, then I looked secondly it is a bit beautiful, I guess the inner siren is something important.

Anyway, It is ok for a new logo.

Jan 6, 2011 1:48AM
Oh come on...........that has got to be the dumbest change of a logo and for the most stupid reasons.  International market - like the international market is going to say what "oh I want that what is it,  you know that coffee with the green chick".  Duh!
Jan 5, 2011 10:46PM

In the original logo the Sea Nymph had BREASTS. The moment Starbucks cowered to the pressure of the PC Police and gave her a Mastectomy, the entire company lost its Testicles.


And as we all know, men who lack Testicles, combined with women who lack Breasts, can neither create nor foster Children.


Starbucks is history, and deservedly so.

Jan 5, 2011 10:07PM
It does look kinda of silly, I bet they REALLY changed their logo in order to deter some of the puns that people use like "Five Bucks" and "Save Bucks" in order to promote their own coffee as being equal while bashing Star Bucks Smile
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