Starbucks rebrand causes a stir

Starbucks has just announced plans to undertake a drastic rebrand of its well-known logo. Ditching the company name completely, Starbucks seems to be following the likes of Apple and Nike by choosing an iconic image to represent the brand, disregarding words altogether.

Andrew Collins, director of brand agency 1HQ, sees the wisdom in this decision. "Logic goes that if you decouple your company name from the visual icon, it suggests a brand that's extremely well-known and sure of itself. That's a token of confidence. Iconic branding is also useful if expanding into different geographies: you don't have to worry about language or translation. Starbucks might also be looking to create digital applications and mobile apps and the like. The simpler you can make your branding for this kind of process, the better."

But there's another reason why Starbucks is killing the wording on its logo.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says: "This new evolution of the logo embraces and respects our heritage and evolves us to a point where it's more suitable for the future. We've allowed the siren to come out of the circle in a way that gives us the flexibility to think beyond coffee. "

So, Starbucks is diversifying. The biggest coffee chain in the world already produces a number of other beverages, foodstuffs - even ice-cream. This rebrand paves the way for further revenue streams and product ranges.

Neil Bayley, director of international public relations firm Porter Novelli, has a theory on why even the word 'Starbucks' had to go. "Maybe they feel Starbucks is so synomynous with coffee they had to," he says. "You hear people say, 'Do you fancy a Starbucks?' when what they actually really mean is a decent, freshly made coffee. It's a bit like saying you are going to do the 'hoovering' at home, when you actually mean you are going to push the vacuum cleaner around. I guess Starbucks feel their brand is so strong, they can minimalise it to just a symbol, in the same way as Apple or McDonalds."

Neema Shah, founder of eastern fashion retailer Mayadisa.com, believes that the Starbucks rebrand holds some interesting lessons for small businesses. "It's certainly a lesson for all business owners to think from the very start about how they want their business to grow in the future and ensure their branding reflects that from the beginning," she says. "Creating brands that are flexible enough to be applied to new markets as your company grows is much better than potentially alienating loyal customers further down the line.

"Personally, I can see why they wanted something more adaptable, but for such an iconic brand it's a shame it has to change. That said, it wouldn't stop me getting my fix of Caramel Macchiatos!"

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