Starbucks Unbrands Itself

This article is from the archive of our partner .

In a bold move, Starbucks announced Wednesday it's stripping its name from the company logo. While the mythical green mermaid will remain on  storefronts and cups, gone will be the "Starbucks Coffee" label. The decision comes amid the chain's expansion into food products and grocery distribution.  "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. According to Reuters, Starbucks loyalists are already protesting the decision on the company's website. Here's what other observers are saying:

  • 'I Think It's Nuts,' says James Gregory, chief executive of CoreBrand, a brand consulting firm. "What's it going to be--the coffee formerly known as Starbucks?" Lisa Baertlein at Reuters noticed a fan revolt on the company's website. "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," said a commenter. "But I do not see the logic of your Business Development folks for the removal of the Starbucks name."
  • I Guess the New Logo Makes Sense, writes Meg Marco at The Consumerist: "It's basically just the same one they currently have, minus those pesky words that say Starbucks Coffee. Coffee, we assume, was the primary problem. Why? Because Starbucks is a fast food joint."
  • The Company Is Trying to Appear Less Chain-Like, writes Alissa Walker at Good:

Starbucks has spent the last two years trying to de-emphasize the Starbucks brand from its stores. Instead of the one-Starbucks-fits-all look that appeared in cafes from Denver to Dubai, recently-revamped interiors feature local artisans, vintage furniture, and reclaimed materials, even new names like 15th Avenue E Coffee and Tea. This made for a more unique, un-chained feel that Starbucks hoped would draw in the loyalty of local customers.

  • A Strange Decision, writes Sarah Walker at Best Week Ever. She tries to get inside the heads of company executives:

Were the Starbucks execs sitting around and said, "We have too much money. Let's pay a branding firm an exorbitant amount to slightly tweak our image and maybe try and make us less recognizable. If such a thing is possible!!!" (Hearty laughter for ten minutes, wiping happy tears away with hundred dollar bills)

  • These Decisions Are Tough, writes Jon Ogg at 24/7 Wall Street:
Logo changes are not always brand changes.  They can be, but not exclusively.  The Coca-Cola Company truly tried to change itself with New Coke in the mid-1980′s, a gamble which should have never been made.  The change could have cost the company a loyalty defection.  Coke responded by releasing Coke Classic, and it was such a successful return that maybe there was an inadvertent win from the company.  Most executives and executives to-be now learn the example as one not to generally repeat.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.