retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Seattle Times reports that Starbucks Corp. is updating its logo, with the most noticeable changer being that the words “Starbucks Coffee” have been completely eliminated.

According to the story, “The new wordless better suited to the company's expansion beyond coffee into a wider array of business lines and into more international markets.”

"What is really important here is an evolutionary refinement of the logo, which is a mirror image of the strategy," said Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks. "This is not just, let's wake up one day and change our logo."

The company apparently also felt that it was well enough known after four decades in business that it did not need to use its name in the logo.

The new all-green logo, according to the Times, “is the fourth version of Starbucks' logo since the company's beginnings as a small coffee, tea and spice shop in Seattle in 1971. The first update came in 1987, taking the original bare breasted siren in brown to a more stylized - and modest - version in green as the company began to expand. The image was further refined in the 1990s as the company went public and its growth soared.”
KC's View:
If Starbucks wants to reposition itself as a CPG company, and not just as a coffee company, that’s fine. Companies have to grow, or they die.

But it wasn’t that long ago that Howard Schultz wanted to position Starbucks as a “lifestyle company,” not just a coffee company, as it invested in books and music and movies. That didn’t turn out the way he intended.

Starbucks can have grand CPG ambitions, but if it takes its eye off the core business, those ambitions could go up in flames. The coffee better be good, the shops better be clean, the employees better be helpful ... or all the ambition in the world won’t compensate for crushed consumer expectations. (And paying lip service to the stores is not the same thing as paying attention to the core business.)

I would suggest that unlike the recent, aborted attempt by Gap to update its logo, this is more about Starbucks soul.