Altering Your Logo and Brand

Starbucks is changing it’s logo much as Nike did in the 90’s when it dropped their company name “Nike” from the logo, relying simply upon the “swoosh” as their brand image.

The changing of brand logos is hotly debated in marketing and advertising circles as some companies have successfully altered their brand and others have struggled with attempts, and lost ground.  But why is Starbucks doing this?  And further what effects might it have on their “branding” efforts with those not familiar with the Starbucks mermaid.

The power of branding comes from a consistent and methodical exposure of your prospective customer base to your company name and logo, hence the term “branding,” like a calf, get it?  If you truly want to brand, you have to commit just as companies like Nike and Starbucks have, to investing in the branding process.  Now what the branding process looks like depends on your customer and prospect base, what media they expose themselves to and the size of your budget.  But too often companies think a couple of post cards a year are effective enough to “burn-in” their brand image, that’s primarily because we as executives are exposed to our brand image everyday, so we begin to project our opinion on our brand, onto our prospective customer base.  Bad idea.

Consider that you have perhaps six to 10 competitors doing much of the same things you are to create “position” by burning in your brand image.  Now combine that with the hundreds of other products and brands your customers and prospects are exposed to daily and you can see that your brand is going to be forgotten pretty quickly.

The concept of changing brand images is nothing new, and sometimes it is necessary.  Often times logos and brand images become outdated and need to be updated to reflect corporate strategy changes, cultural shifts and recent design concepts.

But abrupt, dramatic shifts can be dangerous to brands with a  very well established brand and can often confuse a market and cause your products to fade into the clutter that is the background.  Instead, brands are often encouraged to make small changes over a period of time, often a few years until the brand is changed.  As an example, look at the old Aunt Jemima logo that we grew up with and contrast it with the new logo that changed in 1989 after public pressure about the “mammy looking” logo began to unsettle customers.

Whether or not Starbucks change of logo has a long-term effect on the company’s sales remains to be seen.  But one thing for sure, it has a lot of ad-men, and women talking and debating the intelligence of the move.  And underscores the importance of actively promoting your brand, keeping it consistent, and protecting it for future goodwill.

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