Logos are in the news, because Starbucks changed theirs. The coverage has been extensive within the business press, and throughout the Starbucks online community (they are an exemplary user of social media to build and maintain loyalty through customer engagement.)
Their customers are not favoring the change, which is normal. Will they drive Starbucks to backtrack? Unlikely. Unlike GAP, I believe they thought this out in detail, and are fully behind the new logo.
I am not a big fan of logo change. Changing a logo, especially one that has become “iconic” through time and media weight (a critical element), is a risky move for any consumer company. I was with the crowd that panned the new GAP logo last Fall (see my post), and am not impressed with the rationale behinds Starbucks’ change today. Not because they did a bad job (unlike GAP). It is a nice looking new logo. But it strikes me as completely unnecessary.
They forget what the job of a logo is:
- Be memorable
- Be relevant to the brand and its promise (A logo becomes consumer shorthand for the brand and how the company is delivering on the brand promise)
- Be eye-catching
- Be consistent
- Be consistently “there” (Logos with a lot of media weight behind them inevitably become iconic, but still simply reflect the company reputation.)
Consider Ford, the motor company. That oval badge with the blue background hasn’t changed in decades. It is iconic. Does it look good on some of their vehicles today? No. I am sure a lot of their car designers grind their teeth over how to make that logo fit on the cool grill designs they create. Plus, when their reputation was in tatters they had two choices:
- Create a new logo to “reflect their new commitment to quality.”
- Fix the underlying problem, and allow the current logo to become known for the new reality (a marketing challenge, but successfully done in Ford’s case.)
Here’s the thing though: Most consumers don’t notice such marketing fine points, and don’t care. Indeed, a logo change is usually seen as a sign of trouble.
What drives companies to make silly logo changes?
Corporate boredom – “This has looked the same since 1978. Let’s shake things up!”
Corporate overthink – “Let’s communicate all the underlying changes that we plan to initiate with a logo redesign!” In most cases, the executives driving the change are speaking to themselves rather than the customer.
Corporate ego – The easiest and least effective way to have a CEO/Chairman put their own stamp on a company is to preside over a logo change (much like a tomcat needs to mark its territory.)
Rather than change the logo, simply make it relevant again by consistently delivering on the brand promise. Ford did it. Even Starbucks did it with their recent strategic recovery. Why waste consumer goodwill on such a tactical element?