The New Starbucks Logo: A Lone Siren

Here it is, the new Starbucks logo, launching this March 2011.

It’s pretty.

It’s clean.

It’s simple.

It’s … just a green siren.

So, does the new Starbucks logo accurately represent the Starbucks brand? Are the naysayers of the world panning it because they don’t like change, or are they voicing true branding concerns?

More importantly, will I keep meeting up with friends at Starbucks regardless of the fact that their nameless logo is a green siren that does not necessarily translate immediately to “coffee” or “tea” or “third place?”

My answer to all these questions is — yes.

To me, the new Starbucks logo represents global growth coupled with powerful branding. I admittedly don’t love that they dropped the name, “Starbucks,” however, I don’t mind that they waved farewell to the word “Coffee,” as the Starbucks brand is working to represent more than a beverage.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a few paces…

My first brush with the new logo…
When my Twitter feed began to explode with rants and raves about the new Starbucks logo, I knew I had to check it out. I’m a bit of a branding nut, and to me, there’s no better feedback than one’s initial gut reaction. So, I clicked on the Starbucks link ready to document my first impressions. As I stared straight at the less shapely, silent green siren, I immediately noticed what everyone else did — The logo was textless.

Starbucks: The Third Place
Knowing that Starbucks aims to be the “third place” (outside of home and work), I’m not surprised they’ve dropped the word “Coffee” from their logo. The absence of “Coffee” allows for them to continue to grow and expand as a brand like Apple. I do question dropping “Starbucks” from their logo, however, because I like the added visual assistance in the same way that I like that golden arches are linked to any variation of the name “McDonald’s.” When I was (ahem) wandering Prague after a late night, I found solace in McDonald’s and its deliciously disgusting cheeseburger. At that wee small hour, I knew exactly what those Golden Arches meant. I’d like to have a similar (much more digestible) experience with the Green Siren.

Starbucks: An international superstar
Like all global brands, Starbucks stores have become a juggernaut in terms of international growth. New stores are popping up worldwide, even in newly Westernized cities like Nanjing, China. For that reason, I think that dropping the English name altogether isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Siren transcends language barriers, inviting all men (and women) to pay her a visit.

Does the Green Maiden of the White Cup Translate to “Starbucks?”
Language barriers surpassed, there is one fairly foundational issue I have with the wordlessness of the new logo. Does a green siren make you think of Starbucks like the white apple makes you think of Apple? Apple’s logo is recognized the world over, just like McDonald’s golden arches. More recently, the magnate Wal-Mart has been shifting their logo to the yellow asterisk, in hopes of being recognized visually without text. It’s certainly where I believe Starbucks is headed, but I think, like Wal-Mart’s asterisk, they have a ways to go in terms of associating the green siren with their brand.

The Starbucks Siren: A simple call to port
Nitpicking aside, I really do like the new Starbucks logo. I appreciate its simplicity amongst our over-saturated world. We’re bombarded each day with information, words and pictures from a vast number of information sources. Maybe the simple Green Siren will be enough to call us into her port.

We shall soon see.

In the meantime, though, I’m craving a refill on my Refresh tea. Or a Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. Or a Tall, Extra Hot, No Foam, Decaf Latte with One Pump of White Mocha. 😉 (That Siren gets me every time.)

Written from a comfy chair in a local Starbucks, uploaded via the free wi-fi.