There are more than 28 million definitions of “Brand” that google spews out. There are millions more that various professors and text books try to impress upon you. I’ve always believed in one simple definition – the Brand is the soul..
More importantly it is a soul that is visible for everyone to look into. It is as obscure as a soul and as insightful.
It is no wonder then that when a company tries to change its brand, it always encounters resistance from its consumers who have done their diligence in soul-searching and have decided to associate with this brand.
Perhaps the most heated discussion in the world of marketing this year has been the decision by Starbucks to change its logo.
The new Starbucks logo does away with the ‘obvious’ words “Starbucks Coffee“. I say obvious for two reasons, one – people recognize the logo without ‘aid’. Two, if a billion dollar company thought for one second that its consumers will stop enjoying their coffee unless the cup says ‘coffee’, they would not have risked it.
We can all argue that It is the coffee that sells, the cafe’s that fill up, the staff is liked by the consumers. But I believe it is the brand that emphasized coffee, conversation and good service.
The history of Logo.
Starbucks started out in 1971, offering Coffee, Tea and Spices. Like any startup organization looking for maximum sales to breakeven, they had three key offerings and this was duly communicated in their logo. This was the period that Starbucks wanted to gather as much customer base as possible.
The next step was when Starbucks decide to re-live the boston tea party and threw out the tea and spices off the logo. Strategically it fit in the plan as Starbucks; on acquiring its customers wanted to create a brand that people associate with. This was so successful that not only did people associate good coffee to Starbucks, but they started associating Starbucks to good coffee!!
Now the words are gone. No longer are you reminded by the cup that there is coffee inside. This is a strategic move from Starbucks. They believe that the association will continue. But the industry has its own doubts.
- Would people buy a burger from “Starbucks coffee” or McDonald’s?
- Would people still value the Starbucks service if the staff tried pushing burgers, pasta to its customers instead of taking care of them and giving them the coffee they deserve? imagine the nice lady at the counter take 1 minute to read out the specials and ask you for your confirmation when all you’ve ordered is a hot coffee.
- Would Starbucks attract more crowd in its cafe’s for food than there is for coffee? If that happens, if you find yourself not finding a decent place to sit and have your coffee, would you still go there?
Starbucks taking out the words has triggered the most curious consumer base, looking forward to the corporate strategy in the months to come.
The Good: The change in Logo can be the best thing Starbucks has done strategically if they do not change the business model. they have accentuated the brand and would be bringing in more confidence to their consumers who identify with the brand name without the prompting ‘Starbucks Coffee’
The Bad: The Change in logo can be the biggest mistake Starbucks has made in a long time if they plan to expand in areas other than coffee and condiments. Nobody goes to McDonald’s for coffee and the chances are equally slim that the informed & intelligent consumers of Starbucks would go there for burgers and pasta. If Starbucks doesnt associate itself with coffee anymore that’s more reasons for the consumer to beware of the changes.
Starbucks has created a lot of value. It is time to see if it retains the value that has been created.