In the past few months, there has been a surprising amount of controversy surrounding Starbucks’s decision to change the logo on its coffee cup. Although the company has changed the unforgettable Siren four times throughout history, the most recent change seems to anger the company’s enthusiasts. What about the logo is disappointing? How will this affect the company’s sales? Could this expose the importance of packaging design to brand loyalty?

[Starbucks New Logo Unvailed] [Photograph]. (2010, January). Retrieved from http://www.citystatetimes.com/4467/starbucks-new-logo-unveiled/

Since the logo’s reveal, over 500 people have left angry comments on the company’s blog. In response, CEO Howard Schultz posted a video that presented a history of the brand’s logo in order to explain the reasoning behind the change. You can view this video below:

As I researched this debate, I wanted to understand more about consumer concerns. Why did these loyal customers care about the logo? What about the logo angered them?

To begin my research, I visited the Starbucks website to learn more about the company’s perspective on the new logo. I learned that the logo was created in order to celebrate the brand’s 40th anniversary. Thus, the logo was intended to “be innovative and still represent the heritage and values of [the] company.” The word “coffee” was removed from the design “to eliminate ambiguity in [the] non-coffee products.” Although the reasons for the alterations seemed to be valid, consumers were still angered. I had to uncover the truth.

Beneath Howard Schultz’s video (seen above) on the Starbucks Website, lies a space in which users can submit comments. I chose to look at these comments because I knew that these were the users that held strong opinions, positive and negative. Below is a sample of the hundreds of comments available on starbucks.com/blog.

cmolling

4:44 PM on 3/8/2011

The new logo is……*****….I guess that would be the best to describe it. It certainly is not even close to comparison to Nike or Puma or the like. As the Siren is a Mythological icon, Starbucks has taken the Siren that was “theirs” are now made it to be generic, just another form of a mythological icon. Nike icon, is Nike. Puma is Puma. There is not several Nikes or Pumas, but here are several mythological icons and no the siren (the new Starbucks logo) is just as generic as all

FireYourGraphicDesigner

6:17 PM on 3/9/2011

Obviously the new logo and corporate “identity” bothers me enough to cause me to waste my time just to create an account to be able to leave a comment. I think the logo is a poor decision, and when people identify with something, they have feelings, history, and expectations that they associate with it. Poor decision. “If it ‘aint broke…..”

gjwilcox

10:14 AM on 3/9/2011

I have no problem with the new logo but one question for Starbucks: WHERE’S THE NAME? I’m not convinced the siren is strong enough on its own with the name. Perhaps you should have just redesigned the logo and dropped coffee to indicate a broader product offering. Let’s hope you review your decision…soon.

iamkiki

3:33 PM on 3/12/2011

While I am excited about the future of the company, I really hate the new Logo. I will think twice before buying any more logo items from Starbucks.

So there you have it. Actual concerns from avid Starbucks drinkers. In my opinion? Many consumers, such as iamkiki, are just overreacting when they threaten to stop purchasing coffee from Starbucks because of a logo. Yes, the new design does have its flaws; The removal of the name does make the logo ‘trendy’ and ‘commercialized’, and the logo is very simplistic and somewhat boring. But when you step back and look at the big picture, it is just a logo. The brand is not betraying its customers or even changing the product in any way. If one considers themselves a loyal customer to Starbucks, they need to be just that: loyal.

In the end, the package does make a huge impact on the product’s ability to sell. This concern is especially important with a brand as established as Starbucks. I suppose the lesson learned is that people become attached to brands and any alterations to the product or the way in which it is presented will please some and anger others. Only time will tell if the new Starbucks logo, making its debut this month, affects sales.

A few weeks after writing my first draft of this article, I had my first encounter with controversial logo. I was sitting at my desk, working diligently while drinking my daily coffee. Being a loyal Starbucks consumer myself, I didn’t even think to examine the design of my cup becauseĀ it is a part of my everyday routine. After throwing it away, I realized that it could have been a “new” cup. Sure enough, there was the new logo. Below is my first “new cup” and its new sleeve.

Oxley, D. (2011, January 7). Starbucks New Logo Brewing Up Controversy [Web log post]. Retrieved
     from Examiner: http://www.examiner.com/career-advice-in-new-york/starbucks-new-logo-brewing-up-controversy

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