Et Tu Howard?

So Starbucks has finally taken the logo plunge. Years after they began to dabble in everything from publishing, ice cream and even furniture – in one brief ill-considered reach –  they are trying to officially broaden the brand to, well, anything.

“We’ve allowed (the siren) to come out of the circle in a way that I think gives us the freedom and flexibility to think beyond coffee.” says Howard.

So the obvious model here is Apple which stopped being Apple Computer a few years ago when they successfully became loved for lots of other cool techy things. On the other hand, is Starbucks giving up their core identity? Personally, coffee has replaced sex, ice cream, pets and people as my favorite (and most loyal) companion. I kind of like being reminded that coffee is really at the heart of the brand, even if I’m buying the Starbucks breath mints for my coffee breath. And I don’t mind buying a Harley Davidson T-shirt that says Harley Davidson Motorcylces, in fact that’s kind of why I want the T-shirt.

So, I put it to you loyal readers, what say you? Good move or bad?

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4 Responses to Et Tu Howard?

  1. Brian says:


    Brands are intended to instantly convey information to customers…high quality, low cost, etc. What is the Starbucks brand supposed to convey now? To me it is 1) high quality coffee 2) a generally satisfying retail service experience and 3) a decent place to stop in to check email when I am between meetings (okay, this has more to do with their sometimes comfortable seating and wifi access).

    Curious how far and in which directions they will be successful in stretching the brand.

    BTW, love the site.

    • Steve says:

      Brian, logos send a number of messages like those you suggested – high quality “Best Buy”, low cost “Best Buy”, yet mature logos mostly send the brand recognition message ‘don’t forget us’ / ‘here we are again’. The Nike swoosh doesn’t do anything except remind us of Nike and says nothing about value of the product, same with Apple’s partially eaten apple. These name-recognition-only logos are really most effective after the company has been in the marketplace long enough to have wide-spread recognition. Starbucks must believe they have that and no longer need to say “coffee” on the logo.

      (For me, though, I couldn’t care less about what Starbucks has for a logo. I’ve never drunk a full cup of coffee in my life. I’ve tried, yet can’t get past the bitter taste. Love the smell. Kinda like coffee ice cream. Happy to eat chocolate covered coffee beans.)

      I’m going to be starting a new business this year and will need to create a logo, so this is a great topic.

      Tom, thanks for including me in your blog distribution list.


      • tompiper28 says:

        It’s a great point Steve. I was walking by the huge Apple Store in San Francisco last night and the only thing on the side of the building is the apple itself. No words, not even “Apple.” I think getting to that stage where you have such high awareness that a beautiful minimalist approach is possible is great. But obviously it’s a pretty hard place to start. And I do think Starbucks has the kind of recognition that the siren alone is still instantly recognizable. But for some reason, at least according this poll, people don’t like it as well as Nike or Apple. Curious.

      • Lark says:

        That’s a nicely made answer to a challengnig question

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