Starbucks has received a great deal of press so far in 2011, so we’re sure there is absolutely no need for an introduction, but we’re going to give you one anyway.
The brand was founded in Seattle back in 1971. The store is the biggest and leading coffee shop/retailer in the world, with over 16,000 stores worldwide. A basic introduction? Yes. But we think it sums up their success well.
The reason behind the press is one you’re probably familiar with already; a logo change, which just so happened to hit the internet like a baseball bat to a ball – the news was everywhere we looked! Although a somewhat minor change, it was an extraordinarily brave and confident move by the leading coffee retailer, removing all text from their identity, proving how far this company has come in its 40 years of existence.
In this article we are taking a look at the new identity. Not just the logo itself, but the fresh packaging, products and website that came along with the branding change, all of which was/is in aid of Starbucks 40th Anniversary that occurred on the 7th of March, 2011.
The New Logo
I am confident in saying that you, as a Circlebox Blog reader, have seen the following two logos – the latest two Starbucks identities in the illustrated history of four.
The first logo below was introduced in 1992, making it the identity of Starbucks for a generous 19 years. The second logo was announced earlier this year (January 2011) and has recently been put to use on Starbucks packaging, on the date of their 40th Anniversary.
“We’ve always believed the best days of Starbucks are ahead of us. So we’re excited to share with you where we’re going.”
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks with confidence, believing that every step the company take will only lead Starbucks to bigger and better things, as well as creating an even more unique retail experience in-store.
The new logo itself has received good feedback, unlike other recent retail logo redesigns such as clothing brand ‘GAP’ which managed to cause a worldwide news story.
In my own opinion, I love the logo. I think it is a great step forward for Starbucks, being one of very few companies confident enough to actually remove their name from their logo. One company that pops to mind when thinking about nameless logos is Apple, although they have it easy with the logo being an object that is the companies name itself. Starbucks on the other hand have had to promote their logo over the years, making it more and more recognisable until it would be instantly recognised by the majority of the stores passer-bys. Other companies that have done this include Nike and McDonalds.
Moving onto design feedback, the logo is just a more minimalist version of the previous logo, which was a more minimal version of the one before that, and so on. The lack of excess design makes the logo extremely beautiful to look at. I especially like the fact that there are no strokes, letting the white of the logo sit against whatever color or image the logo is placed upon.
Seen below are several comments made on the logo that we have sourced from other sites discussing the new identity. How many of these do you agree with, and if you don’t agree, why? Be sure to let us know in the comments area at the bottom of the article.
Comment 1: “Isn’t a logo a name in itself? Once you see the logo the word Starbucks flashes in your mind, same for other companies that have done it this way. Reading without seeing words.” – Rhinestone Jumpsuit, Finance.Yahoo.com.
Comment 2: “I think the logo is a vast improvement and Starbucks are in a good position to take this brave move. As long as they use it wisely on shop signage and their product range then there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work.” – Grabbins, BrandingStrategyInsider.com.
Comment 3: “Is it just me that thinks that the logo looks like the Siren is holding her legs/tails open in a rather rude manner?” – Tim Nelis, TheDieline.com.
Comment 4: The update makes the Siren less coffee-specific, but it also makes her less English-specific. This is an international logo. – Amando Savi, PSFK.com.
A very, very good point made above by Amando Savi, suggesting that without type, the logo becomes an international logo. One big advantage of the logo is that it could be much more accepted in countries that speak no English, or in fact don’t write in English letters.
Adapting on the previous quote, Starbucks CEO said, and I quote: ” Starbucks will continue to offer the highest-quality coffee, but we will offer other products as well – and while the integrity, quality and consistency of these products must remain true to who we are, our new brand identity will give us the freedom and flexibility to explore innovations.”. As well as making the logo suitable for non-English speaking countries, it also makes it suitable to sell more products than just coffee – a clever move!
Something I haven’t seen mentioned in too many places, is the fact of how big this logo change actually is. It isn’t just an updated logo like what most of us think of an updated logo – some new business cards, a new logo on a website, maybe a new line of tags when it comes to getting a new batch printed… With Starbucks, it’s almost everything. To name a few things: Store logos, cup logos (and lots of them), mugs, napkins, menus, cans, food packaging, coffee packaging, and various products that they sell. Indeed, this is going to cost Starbucks a lot. Thinking about it in more detail, even their top of the range coffee machines have their logo pressed into their shiny bronze sides!
Starbucks launched their logo in style, opening some new stores using the new logo. Below the logos can be seen being used in real-life stores. Most stores are yet to have the logo change, but Starbucks says that they will be changing all retail store logos over the next few months.
Advertising In Style
They’ve done it again, and in style. The new Starbucks logo can be seen (in a very big format) up on an electronic billboard in NYC, along as on the store, baristas apron and the coffee espresso cups.
Already Starbucks are promoting this new wordless minimal identity as much as they can. Do you think they’re going to have problems in later years when it comes to attracting new customers?
Below a selection of Starbucks new cups and packaging can be seen. What do you think of the new packaging designs, and of course how well do you think the logo works now it can be seen being used in a real environment, rather than just digitally on your computer screens and in the press?
An individual coffee cup, without the lid, sporting the new logo.
A preview of the new identity as a whole; the classic white cups, takeaway lids, cup-holders (making it easier to hold the cup without burning yourself), paper bags and napkins.
I’m a big fan of the combination of bright white and brown paper, especially the off-white brown used for the napkin. Combined with bright green this makes some really interesting and somewhat appetising packaging.
There have been some niggles about the pattern used on the side of the bag with people commenting saying it looks as if it has been added at the very last minute. Bein a fan of abstract artwork, I quite like the pattern, although I can easily understand why others are commenting on the design.
As I mentioned earlier, the logo change is huge because there are so many instances where the logo is used, such as the package below which is one of many coffees Starbucks sell, most of which have their own bespoke packaging. Do you like this new style of packaging? I think it would certainly stand out against others in a supermarket.
Also with the new identity came a new website. I have strong mixed feelings about the website. Overall, I think the minimal design works well with the new identity, and I especially like the homepage.
Although in some cases I think it is lovely, in others it just looks unfinished, especially when you compare the US site with the UK site. The two sites are virtually the same in terms of layout and style, but the UK one seems to be a stripped back version of the US with next to zero content. The UK version is also missing the Starbucks Shop, which to me doesn’t make that much sense, especially with Starbucks being such a huge company in the UK now.
Seen below is the main navigation menu, appearing in the header of the site. Click on an item and sub-categories are found, such as drinks and food under the menu item. On the US site, these sub-categories then list another level of categories, such as bottled drinks, brewed coffee and chocolate beverages.
The menu works extremely well, making it super easy to find what you’re looking for. As well as being user friendly, the menu also makes use of the space in the right side of the drop-down bar, advertising one of many of their products using a small image and a short description.
As mentioned earlier, the UK version looks incomplete compared to the US version of the site. Below is a screenshot of the UK menu. As you can see the menu is identical in terms of styling, but for some unknown reason there are no drink or food categories, and even a lot of features are cut out, such as “Delicious Drinks under 200 Calories” and the “My Starbucks Idea” feature.
Comparing the two sites once again, below we have the US version of the menu page. The design makes use of white space (could this be argued as wasted space?) and uses a light gray menu on the left hand side to allow you to change your view type between photos and nutrition, as well as what drink category you currently have selected.
Below is the UK version of the same page. The main differences between the two are that the menu is displayed on one page on the UK site, using headings for each different type of drink (i.e. brewed tea and bottled drinks), rather than having a separate page for each drink category.
An even bigger difference is the lack of the gray menu, not only removing the option of narrowing down your drink selection, but also the ability to view the nutritional information on the menu page.
Last but not least we have the footer, a nice clean gray design with everything you need to know, helping to sum the site up nicely. This particular screenshot is taken from the US site – the UK one, once again, is a very stripped down version of the footer seen below.
I’m going to keep this conclusion brief, and leave the majority of it up to you. I personally like the new logo, and especially like the new packaging. I like the concept behind the new website, keeping it clean and minimal to match the new packaging and logo design, however I am very disappointed with the UK version of the site being an Englishman myself – it just doesn’t really make sense to me and plenty of others why the site lacks so much information when it is already presented on the American version of the site.
I’m going to leave you with the following quote from an interview with Mike Peck, the designer behind the new identity:
“The logo, or mark, is just a small part of the expression. We have been looking at photography, illustration and packaging.”.
What do you think the above could mean? What other areas do you think Starbucks will explore in terms of photography, illustration and packaging? I’m really excited to see what they’re up to, and hopefully we’ll be seeing lots of great design heading our way from Starbucks.