Starbucks cuts name and "coffee" from logo

January 06, 2011

(Reuters) - Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O), the world's biggest coffee chain, unveiled a new logo on Wednesday that omits its name and the word "coffee", infuriating loyal customers.

The new green logo is essentially Starbucks' representation of a female siren -- a half-human mythical temptress who led sailors to their deaths. The change, announced during a Webcast

of a company meeting, comes as Starbucks is building new billion-dollar brands sold outside its cafes.

"Even though we have been, and always will be, a coffee company and retailer, it's possible we'll have other products with our name on it and no coffee in it," Chief Executive Howard Schultz said on the Webcast.

The company, based in Seattle, Washington, has not changed its logo since it went public in 1992.

Self-described Starbucks fanatics were not impressed and, among hundreds of comments on Starbucks' website, called for the company's name to be put back into the logo.

"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!" wrote one customer who identified herself as MimiKatz.

Another wrote: "I have been a big supporter of (Starbucks) 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."

Executives said the logo, designed in-house, would be phased in, appearing first on paper products like cups and napkins in March. Starbucks declined to say how much it would cost to switch to the new logo.

Starbucks has come through a restructuring over the past few years, during which it closed almost 1,000 stores around the world and put more emphasis on brands like instant coffee Via and Seattle's Best Coffee.

It is now fighting Kraft Foods Inc (KFT.N) for control of its grocery distribution business.


Some brand experts questioned whether the logo change was a smart move, and even likened it to a recent ill-fated attempt by clothing chain Gap Inc (GPS.N) to change its well-known brand image.

"I think it's nuts," said James Gregory, chief executive of brand consulting firm CoreBrand. "What's it going to be -- the coffee formerly known as Starbucks?"

The new logo probably will not hurt cafe sales in the near term because most Starbucks customers are enthusiasts, Gregory said. But, he said, a nameless logo was a bad fit for Starbucks products sold by grocery stores and other retailer.

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