Conduct research / Evaluate the nature of design in a specific industry context
Starbucks and their new unbound siren
This year Starbucks marked its 40th year – and as part of the celebration, they rolled out a new, simplified and publicly disliked logo. The new logo essentially takes the siren out of her ringed frame, changes the background colour and removes all text .
Most of the redesign work was done in house, though Starbucks also brought in design studio Lippincott for “counsel”. Steve Barrett, who heads Starbuck’s 100-strong design team closely studied design-driven renewals by other “visible and trusted” brands like Apple, Pepsi, Target and Nike.
For designers, meanwhile, the point of greatest contention seems to be the elimination of the logo’s green surrounding donut. Unfortunately, this outer circle was hardly a protectable device. Travelers throughout the world had come to identify coffee shops by knock-off circular signs with type wrapping around whatever happens to sit in the center. Maybe stepping away from the outer circle will leave the one-off coffee shops wondering what visual vernacular is left to steal. Of course this isn’t the first makeover the Starbucks siren has received. But the latest change doesn’t just stop with the logo. And when Starbucks rebrands, seventeen thousand stores, in 50 countries, get a facelift. Even logo clad chunky white mugs are being replaced with bone china.
The functional and strategic motives for this change are valid in my mind and i agree with comments on the company’s website, CEO Howard Schultz said “that by removing the word “coffee” in this way, 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 and new channels of distribution. Without the word coffee comes potential and Starbucks plans to increase its groceries business, which already sells branded tea and ice-cream in supermarkets.” The chain has also aggressively expanded distribution of its next billion dollar hopeful, the soluble instant coffee brand “Via”.
Starbucks spokeswoman Deb Trevino says “This decision was made for business reasons. It was a strategic decision for us to accommodate our growing business”. If Starbucks is the question, coffee is the answer and that kind of product association can be a blessing and a curse.