Apple identifies itself with an apple; McDonald’s with its golden arches, and Nike with its swoosh. Does Starbucks’ green mermaid enjoy the same graphic brand recognition without accompaniment of its name?
In unveiling its new no-name logo yesterday, Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ CEO, explained that the 40-year-old company had moved away from its core coffee offerings and the new logo was “more suitable” for the future of its business. Signaling that the company has broadened its branded product line by dropping the word “Coffee” from its identity makes sense, but why drop “Starbucks” too?
On the plus side, it could be argued that Starbucks’ signature green and the mermaid have global brand recognition. The mark has increasingly zoomed in on the mermaid over the years. But I would argue that the way that people spot a Starbucks location is by the green signage, not by the mermaid. Another problem is that unlike the apple and the McDonald’s “m”, the mermaid as a symbol has a circuitous connection to the name Starbucks. Those who didn’t read “Moby-Dick” in school probably don’t know that the company was named after the first mate, Starbuck, on the whaling ship, Pequod. Whaling adventure, oceans, mermaid… coffee. Maybe the name was chosen because it was meant to be the kind of cafe where English literature majors felt comfortable hanging out. But why forest green and not sea green for its corporate color? Go figure, but you can’t deny its success.
The jury is out on Starbucks new logo. We’re eager to see how it will be implemented.