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January 6, 2011

Starbucks Bets Its Siren Can Replace Its Naming to Lure Customers

StarbucksLogo.pngStarbucks has dropped its name and "coffee" from its logo in what looks like an attempt to copy Apple and Nike with a nameless, ubiquitous logo.

The green and white siren that lures sailors from the seas to a mock paradise, and millions of coffee drinkers from the sidewalks to Starbucks locations is all that remains.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says of the change,"We've allowed (the siren) to come out of the circle in a way that I think gives us the freedom and flexibility to think beyond coffee."

This is the fourth logo change since the first store opened in 1971.

StarbucksHistory.pngOver the years the siren has become progressively bigger and more pronounced but of course the news here is that Starbucks has such belief in its brand name that it is willing to remove it from the cup and the signage.

More than that, the black lines and coloration inside the logo have also been removed, making it look almost like a stamp or watermark.

Said one pro, "Color is the element with the highest recall and we have become very associated to green, black and white," and I tend to agree.

The blogosphere reacted with a mixture of disbelief and outrage.

One industry watcher has called this a "make-under." A marketing exec noted that "Brands die and their brand-names and logos die mostly not by big screw ups, like (new) Coke and the GAP, but by the death of a thousand cuts over time," and this may be one of those "little things."

Some suggest that Gap should use the "discarded bits" of the logo.

Another added "What's it going to be - the coffee formerly known as Starbucks?"

The New York Daily News quotes an expert who feels that Starbucks is not quite big enough to shed its name yet. They also have a poll asking readers if the name is needed or not, and has them deeply divided in a three way split between the yeses, the nos and the don't knows... a bad sign.

Starbucks is a great brand, but I'm just not sure all customers will hear the siren's song forever.

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Posted by William Lozito at January 6, 2011 8:02 AM
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