Starbucks logo undergoes a redesign that drops its name. Is the coffee giant's mermaid (actually, a siren) strong enough to stand on her own?
Courtesy of Starbucks
When you see a mermaid, do you think of coffee? Starbucks hopes so.
The Seattle-based coffee corporation announced Wednesday that they were changing their logo, stripping off all text – both the name "Starbucks" and "coffee," their signature product – and enlarging their stylized mermaid. Oh, excuse me, not mermaid, siren, as the company consistently calls it.
"Throughout the last four decades, the Siren has been there through it all. And now, we’ve given her a small but meaningful update," wrote Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz on the company's website. In the accompanying video, Mr. Schultz says, "It embraces and respects our heritage, and at the same time evolves us to a point where we feel it's more suitable for the future."
But does it actually evoke Starbucks?
"Is it a strong enough icon?" asks Laura Oswald, director of Marketing Semiotics, a marketing research company in Chicago. "Would you identify that mermaid as absolutely Starbucks the way you identify the golden arches as absolutely McDonald's?"
"A logo is almost like someone's face. If they change it, it’s almost like you don’t recognize the person anymore," says Dr. Oswald. So why would Starbucks take the step? "I have a feeling that they genuinely want to test the new logo, and at the same time, they want to get people talking," she says. Thanks to the Internet, "you can get feedback so quickly – it’s a way of doing market research."
She's not a fan of the new image – which puts her in plentiful company, as public opinion (as expressed in comments on Facebook and starbucks.com) are more than 10 to 1 against the change.