Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Botox and Starbucks

"I've never been more excited about the future of the company, I'll tell you that"

What's the difference between a re-brand and a branding facelift?

Think of it as the difference between major facial reconstruction surgery(ex:Travolta/Cage in "FACE-OFF") and botox.

Starbucks Corp. has chosen the latter. Or in their lingo, it's pronounced latte.

The world's largest coffee company has unveiled new logo that drops the words, "Starbucks Coffee" encircling its iconic sea nymph, giving her a few subtle updates. Starbucks claims the changes amount to more than nips and tucks. According to chairman Howard Schultz, this fresh look - or injection - heralds a new direction for the company, as it recovers from its toughest times in its 40-year history.

Starbucks plans to bring the new look to stores in March to coincide with its 40th anniversary.

This is the fourth version of Starbucks' logo since the company started 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 growth soared.

Starbucks eventually suffered from its own success. It grew too far, too fast and began drawing criticism that it had become the Wal-Mart of coffee. Its luster further faded as the recession hit and sales and stock price both fell. But, Starbucks brought back founder Schultz to lead daily operations in 2008, closed hundreds of stores and cut jobs. It reemphasized training for employees, allowed customers to customize drinks more, increased its Wi-Fi offerings and launched a rewards program. According to Schultz, "We're sitting today with record revenue, record profit; the stock price is at a five-year high. This isn't an accident". Schultz said.

Some will argue that changes to the logo are in some ways a metaphor for the company dropping the boundaries of its own business and growing into new areas. "The brand is now evolving to a point where the coffee association is too confining and restrictive," said John Quelch, a marketing professor at Harvard Business School. "Starbucks is fundamentally selling an experience, but by no means is coffee the only part of the experience. It is important that they not have a logo that is too confining."

However, some self-described Starbucks fanatics are not impressed.

There have been hundreds of comments posted on the Starbucks’ website:

“Who’s the bonehead in your marketing department that removed the world-famous name of Starbucks Coffee from your new logo? This gold card user isn’t impressed!”

"I have been a big supporter since the early days, taken expensive rides in taxis to get my morning coffee, even waded through two feet of snow in my business suit … but I do not see the logic of your Business Development folks for the removal of the Starbucks name.”

"Unfortunately, I do not agree with the new logo. It's almost like the scenerio where GAP changed their corporate logo look, and the backlash against the design made management rethink. Although, I love Starbucks, the new logo isn't for me. It feels like the Siren is lonely"

But others have differing points of view:

"I think it is bold, brave, and beautiful! Admittedly, I was jarred by it at first glance, but upon viewing it again this morning, I find I am attracted to it—both as a longtime customer, and as a professional graphic designer for 30 years. That said, I believe that the most recognizable image associated with Starbucks coffee is not the siren but the green ring. The hint at "beyond coffee" in the CEO's intro video provides a clue for the redesign rationale."

Marketing experts at Penn State, West Virginia University, and Rice University in the United States just joined forces to examine why consumers react negatively to logo redesigns such as the one by the world's most popular coffee company. Researchers asked 632 students what they thought about new logos for Adidas and New Balance shoes. Those who said they had strong attachments to the brand felt betrayed by the changes while those who weren't so emotionally connected tended to view the new look positively. The study shows people with a longstanding loyalty to a particular product feel threatened by the changes. In other words, customers with the most brand loyalty were also the most likely to abandon that company out of anger, hurt or disappointment.

Hmmm ... isn't that interesting.

Many corporations such as Starbucks believe their best customers will be the most accommodating to change because of their longstanding loyalty.

But, what if the opposite is true?

How do you feel about the Starbucks logo facelift?

Was the girl in need of botox?

Or should she have been allowed to age gracefully?

"That's the mistake women make - you shouldn't see your makeup. We don't want to look like we've made an effort"

Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/ His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/