The new Starbucks logo and brand identity gets it right.

image via www.underconsideration.com

First of all, let me say this. Most people have a hard time with change and most people are not professional designers. Therefore, people hate new logos.

My biggest frustration with armchair brand critique is not that consumers have opinions on design, but rather they focus on the wrong reasons to hate new logos. Most opinions are typically never more than “I liked it the other way” or “I don’t like that color/font”. Imagine yourself paying a designer whose only considerations for creating the visual identity of your business are “I just like it this way”, and “I just like this color/font”.

The point is, good design is not about what you or the designer subjectively “like”, it’s about the most appropriate choice for the business.

I understand how the general public’s opinions and existing relationship should factor in to a rebranding project. I also understand it is not the job of consumers to think about each company’s long term marketing strategy every time they see a logo. But if you have enough energy to voice a strong opinion, could you just briefly consider the possible reasons for the change, instead of getting hung up about the ink on the cup looking slightly different? You might be surprised by what you discover.

Don’t get me wrong. There are still a lot of shockingly poor revisions to major brands that fail miserably on the visual treatment or the strategic reasons for the change, or both. However, the new Starbucks logo and brand identity got it right and deserves as much positive commentary as were given to the bad ones. Here’s why:

1. Timing: The Starbucks CEO himself openly introduced us to the change with a video, good story and clear messaging already posted on their site. They were beautifully prepared and proactive.

2. Authority: They confidently stand behind the change and own the conversation around it. They are making the decisions here, not sheepishly asking for crowd-sourced input. In addition to the CEO, the Senior Creative Manager even wrote a bunch of nice designer-speak details about the mark that remind you this was done by professionals. (BTW, can you imagine crowd-sourcing or a fan contest around other parts of a business like sales development or financial reporting? You wouldn’t hand over those operations, but you would hand over your global identity?) 

3. Truth: The brand revision legitimately and quickly reflects exactly what Starbucks is trying to do – offer more than just coffee.

4. Aesthetic: They identified and preserved the part of the old mark with the most equity and visual potential. Then subtly and carefully refined and simplified those elements to create a logical and effective evolution, rather than falling in the common trap of “if we’re going to change it, we’d better change it a lot”.

It’s so refreshing to see it done right. Good job to everyone involved in creating the new identity and rolling it out with the same amount of integrity. Read a lot more about it on the always fantastic Brand New.

2 comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I love the new logo and the effective way Starbucks is conducting this exercise.

  2. Tremendous! I am really impressed. This stuff is really awesome! Keep sharing more informative stuff like that.

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