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January 2011


Logo Design

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Hey! Just thought I’d chime in. I really enjoyed your post. Keep up the awesome effort.

Sajja Praveen Chowdary

Names and words can be dropped once a brand reaches an adult stage but, it shouldn't appear wierd when the words are dropped.. I think the color coding and formatting remained the same in case of shell and McD. However, in case of Starbucks it looks wierd.. If not like Prius, why can't schultz go ahead replacing the word coffee with which so ever product they enter into and let the design and everything remain same??

Postpartum Girdle

I think they are making a big mistake. Its the name not the picture which is the image people have. I never go to Satbucks anyway so I am not bothered one way or the other.

will novosedlik

Tempest in a teacup. If it was about the coffee, they'd do a better job on the product. It's now indistinguishable from any other gourmet coffee out there, with the exception of the one-off boutique barristas that are popping up in every neighbourhood and producing something a lot closer to the real thing.

Harry Beckwith

I never realized that the word Coffee appeared in the Starbucks logo.

The word isn't needed, and makes the name a syllable too long. The got-get-it-quick modern mind doesn't tolerate names that long.

Who calls it Ford Motor Company anymore? Or Bloomingdale's Department Store?

And Starbucks isn't a coffee company. It's a social gqthering place that offers coffee. It's an American adapation of the British pub.

chris corbin

I'm a big fan of logos but feel strongly that the logo only goes as far as brand execution and customer experience. Apples, arches, and mermaids don't mater if the execution and brand experiences are great. For example, how about google's logo?

Yaacov Weiss

Great post. If I may add, I think the difference between the Nike swoosh, McDonalds M and Apple logo versus the rest of them is that the former were freestanding icons in their own right even before the name was dropped. The name next to it was there to create the association. Once the brand became super powerful and the association was memorized and embedded in people psyches, it was ok to drop the name and let the logo do the talking. However, with Starbucks and the others you mention, the name was part and parcel of the logo. Removing the name creates a visually different effect and it’s no longer the same logo as before. This can be disastrous because in addition to no longer using the name, you are using a logo which people are not yet comfortable with. People first wonder “Is that really Starbucks?”


The big difference between Apple - Shell, where the logo represent english word for the company/brand name and McDonalds or Nike, where the logo is different and needs to be explained. In this discussion the best logos are same as brand name like Coca-cola or Microsoft



Sorry, but I strongly disagree. I too consider myself a bit of a purist when it comes to brand positioning and focus, but when I read your posts I often think you've taken some of your own (and your dad's) maxims a bit too literally. I've referenced this post in my own, titled "Five silly reasons to hate Starbucks' new logo." Nothing personal, of course...I hope you'll swing by the blog and put me in my place!


Account Deleted

Starbucks trademark for outstanding sea Vamp's head, should McDonald's have to follow for it?

Wheel of Life

Yeah, I think this is just not going to work. The design is too complex to be easily identified. I'm sure it will be just like The Gap incident and they'll go back within a few months.

Kaan Deniz

Hi Laura. I am doing master in Marketing Management at University of Westminster in London. 

I read all books of you and Mr. Al Ries and i constantly follow your blog. I just wanted to say thank you because of your the last post about Starbucks logo. I was thinking totally same with you about Starbucks logo situation but you know i am not a professional marketer. Your post has become a kind of proof for me to defend strongly my opinion  :)

Also more thanks for your books. I really learnt lots of things thanks to your books.



Saad Al Dosari

Although I totally agree that the name of the brand could’ve, somehow, make it to the new logo, dropping the name out of it would not affect the brand or how people would perceive it much. The visual of the Siren (the mermaid) is so attached to the brand that it could be identified without the name. And that’s a sign of a powerful visual of a powerful brand.

Now for adding more than the coffee to their menu, that depends on Starbucks’s management decisions which are not yet clear so we could safely judge them.

I have to say that I like the new idea of the logo, the whole concept of the Siren breaking away from its circle is resonating with me. I still prefer the name on the logo, but all in all, it is not that bad. We just need some time to adjust to it.


Nice post. I love it. Waiting your new posts. Thank you...

Sid Raisch

I'm not sure all of this pontificating is worth anything. Nike's swoosh has nothing to do with their product and the name is not on it.

However, Starbucks is Starbucks, not a mermaid. The name Starbucks is on their store signs, not the Mermaid logo. Why not just simply the word Starbucks in green like we see everywhere they are?

Paul Dushkind

A couple of years back, Laura had a post about Dunkin Donuts. At the time, I thought that Dunkin should stress great doughnuts rather than coffee. I no longer believe that. I didn't realize how successfully Dunkin Donuts had positioned itself as the blue-collar alternative to Starbucks. Doughnuts versus croissants and scones. During the primary Presidential campaign, pundits referred to Hillary Clinton's Dunkin Donuts Democrats versus Obama's Starbucks Democrats.

So Dunkin Donuts should keep Donuts in their name to sell coffee, but Starbucks should keep Coffee in their logo to sell coffee. This is a paradox.

It's not just the names; it's the specialization or diversification that the names represent. People just say "Starbucks," so coffee isn't really part of their name. "Dunkin" refers to dunking a doughnut in coffee, but I'm not sure that people remember that. Both companies are selling the experience that comes with drinking coffee, including the sweets on the side. If you called a shop Cream & Sugar, people would understand that you were selling coffee.

Shotgun Jones

Starbucks, hopefully this sinks them.

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Thanks for all the interesting information you are sharing with us. Keep up the good work and i will be always reading your posts.

Leon Noone

G'Day Laura,

Thanks for your insights. I often wonder why businesses spend a fortune in time and money establishing their brand and, once they own their position, decide to change it.

Starbucks is well established here in Australia. But I hadn't realised that their logo contained a mermaid: not until you pointed it out. Starbucks means coffee. A stylised mermaid means...... anything you want it to mean.

Can't wait for the line extension when Starbucks will try to convince us that their name means.....well, who knows?

Keep up your good work.



Johannes Hartmann

Issue is here that they dilute brand identity. Not only by taking out the name but by color coding and formatting. Color coding is changing. The angel looks different etc. Your examples about Shell and McDonald and Nike are different as all of them were gradual evolutions maintaining or even magnifying the core of the identity (3-d effects bolder/sharper color coding). Starbucks will get hammered, they change an icon by watering it down. Pity. But its not about the names ... only.


I'm not sure about the line extension stuff. (I agree with the rest of what you say.)

I'm wondering about brands like Virgin which seem to be pretty close to infinitely flexible.

Jason Whitaker

I agree. You make a great point on why SB should keep the name. I am wondering if they used the new logo (which I do like) on certain products, cups for example would that hurt or help their cause?

Paul Dushkind

You're right that Starbucks should keep the words Starbucks and Coffee. If anything, they could drop the mermaid. But I don't see much wrong with the wordless yellow seashell for Shell, or the M-arch for McDonald's. Those wordless logos seem to be along the same lines as the successful wordless logos for Apple and Nike. I'm less sure about the chili pepper, because Chili's is a less established brand than the others.

One point of distinction: You see an apple or a shell, you think or say "Apple" or "Shell." But you can't show a picture of a Starbucks.

Chris Houchens -- Brand Zeitgeist

Exactly. Brand (and logo) evolution needs to be slow, deliberate, and incremental.
I don't think there will be as much of a backlash as there was with GAP since the designers will find the new siren more of a clean design. But you're right; over the long term, this will bite them with customers.
And the true danger of this move is that, from what I've read today, this IS a deliberate move to get rid of "coffee" from the logo. We're likely to see the slippery slope of brand extentions for the next few years.

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