Starbucks’ Siren Makeover – Hot or Not?

March 1, 2011 - 7:57 am 19 Comments

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In the debate between Starbucks’ old logo and new logo, I pursued a different course of action this week by taking an office poll to determine which logo wins out. As far as the marketing professionals were concerned, the decision was unanimous. Starbucks should not stray from its highly recognizable logo into new territory. Because that’s exactly what this updated logo is. Brand new territory.

“Personally, I never paid any attention to the center of the logo,” Spada’s director of marketing admitted, referring to the wavy-haired mermaid holding her fins beside her. “The center alone is not recognizable enough to stand on its own. Starbucks needs the whole package.” Our account coordinator wholly agreed. “The surrounding brand name gives your eye a place to focus and the siren only completes the logo,” she says. “I’m lost when looking at the new logo. This mermaid means nothing to me without the brand name.”

For the benefit of those who have been hiding under a rock, Starbucks is rebranding its image from a coffee provider to a company without limits. While remaining true to their heritage, which, for reasons unknown to this author, includes a siren, Starbucks has experienced a total of four logo changes in forty years. The logo we all know and love was created in 1992 and features a twin-tailed siren in black and white with encircling text reading “Starbucks Coffee.” Soon, this will be a relic of the past, especially as the new look, coinciding with the company’s 40th anniversary, is so drastically different. Gone is Starbucks’ brand name. Gone is the black and green color contrast. Enter a green mermaid, smiling at you on a Styrofoam cup.

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According to a client who was milling around our office today, the brand name is crucial. Starbucks may be on every street corner in New York City and other such metropolises, but popularity does not eliminate the need for a brand name. “The former logo says, Come visit us, we are Starbucks, and we will serve you a cup of coffee. I’m a simple guy. I want the brand to say what it is,” he explains.

Spada’s CEO and creative extraordinaire understands Starbucks’ ambition in the logo’s alterations, yet thinks they could have taken a different route. “As Starbucks is attempting to market non-coffee products, it is clear why they chose to move forward with the rebranding,” she elaborates. “However, they strayed too far from the brand when, really, they should have worked with what they had but changed the surrounding text.”

As far as I’m concerned? There’s certainly something appealing about the new design’s minimalist and streamlined feel. I can see how Starbucks would find it more “modern.” Yet the green and white design fades into the white background of the coffee cup, creating the impression that it’s missing something. The previous eye-catching logo pops so much in comparison, it’s hard to feel like this is an upgrade.

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