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Starbucks decides it's famous; knocks name off logo news
06 January 2011

Forty years after it was launched, coffee chain Starbucks has decided it is too well known to require a name – its iconic mermaid is enough.

The Seattle-based company unveiled a new look for its logo on Wednesday, eliminating the company's name from around the mythical sea-creature that has long graced its paper cups and merchandise.

This is the fourth logo remake in the company's 40-year history. Starbucks officials say the company has grown beyond the need for name branding, and they feel the mermaid is all that is needed to represent the company.

The move clearly spells the company's intent to explore avenues beyond coffee. Howard Schultz, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks, said, ''Starbucks will continue to offer the highest-quality coffee, but we will offer other products as well.

In a message to customers, Schultz further said, "Throughout the last four decades, the Siren has been there through it all. And now, we've given her a small but meaningful update to ensure that the Starbucks brand continues to embrace our heritage in ways that are true to our core values and that also ensure we remain relevant and poised for future growth."

He said the company's next chapter will see its stores and products becoming a vital part of 16,000 neighbourhoods around the world.

The company has already expanded its product range to include tea, smoothies, and food, and has also forayed into grocery and music sales business. It has gone in for a logo change nine years after it went public in 1992.

Starbucks' earlier logo, a deep green ring with the 'Starbucks Coffee' tag encircling the black and white siren, has given way to a new logo, designed in-house. The new logo features the twin-tailed mermaid out of the encircling ring in a green and white circle, but without the company's name.

''For 40 years she's represented coffee, and now she is the star,'' said Mike P, senior creative manager at Starbucks. The siren was first adopted by Starbucks to signify its seafarer roots, which the company says still ties it with its history while giving it the freedom to explore.

Starbucks said that it had taken the help of branding firm Lippincott for the redesign, but refused to comment on how much it would be spending on the new brand identity.

Inspired or 'nuts'?
Customers though were not very impressed with the logo, with several self-claiming loyalists voicing their dissent on the Starbucks website.

Speaking about the redesign, James Gregory, chief executive of brand consulting firm CoreBrand, told Reuters, ''I think it's nuts.

He said the new logo probably won't hurt cafe sales in the near term because most Starbucks customers are enthusiasts. But a nameless logo was a bad fit for Starbucks products sold by grocery stores and other retailers. ''There you're dealing with people who aren't enthusiasts. You're looking at something that's almost generic and it's not shouting out as something that is Starbucks,'' he added.

But Kevin Budelmann, president of brand identity firm Peopledesign, seemed to differ. He told AFP, ''There is an ongoing desire to simplify graphic identities so that they can be more portable into different kinds of media spaces. Today people thinking about new graphic identities are thinking about facebook icons and Twitter icons just as often as stationery or business cards.''

The redesign puts Starbucks along Apple and Nike, which let the logos speak for the respective brands without explicitly naming the companies.

The Starbucks logo isn't as well recognised as Nike or Apple, but there is no risk of confusing the siren with another product, Budelmann said.

The revamped logo will first appear on paper products like cups and napkins in March.

Here's a rather lofty view on what the change means, courtesy of a Starbucks staffer who worked on the redesign:

''Our new evolution liberates the Siren from the outer ring, making her the true, welcoming face of Starbucks. For people all over the globe, she is a signal of the world's finest coffee – and much more. She stands unbound, sharing our stories, inviting all of us in to explore, to find something new and to connect with each other. And as always, she is urging all of us forward to the next thing. After all, who can resist her?''

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Starbucks decides it's famous; knocks name off logo