Adventures in PR Land

Logo Changes:Think Brand Imaging

Posted on: May 23, 2011

In the age of instant feedback and a constant need for companies to stay “cutting edge”, it is no surprise that recent logo changes have been met with criticism.  Recent changes to Starbucks and the GAP have stirred a debate about how consumers connect to a brand and its logo.

Starbucks has recently changed its logo by removing the “Starbucks Coffee” text with stars and enlarging the “Starbucks Siren” green mermaid image. According to Yahoo!, the company’s evolution beyond its coffee selection is the major reason for the logo change. Since Starbucks also offers food, pastries, and other beverages, the company wants to reflect this expansion in its logo. Also Starbucks’ CEO, Howard Schultz, says “There is some symmetry to be able to do this [Starbucks redesign]. This new evolution does two things… it embraces and respects our heritage and at the same time, evolves us to a point where it’s more suitable for the future.”

While we wait and see if the new Starbucks logo will stay, the Gap logo change backlash still remains in recent memory. After a week of passionate outcry from Facebook (and other forums), the company decided to switch back to its original logo.

What these two examples show is the importance of brand identity and consumer sentiment. With companies looking to Facebook and other social media forums to gauge public opinion, a logo change will not be met with silence. So, in what situations could a change in image be appropriate? According to one article “It’s almost never a good idea to change a company’s logo”, there are three main reasons for a company to re-design the logo:

  • First, if the company’s reputation is damaged, then a logo change may be a good idea.
  • Next, if the logo is too hard to reproduce then changing it is necessary. For instance, Apple was forced to make this change when printing the rainbow colors became too difficult, so a solid black or silver apple icon was used.
  • Finally, when the focus and purpose of the company changes completely, it makes sense to change the logo. For example, Nokia had to change its image when it transformed from a paper mill to a technology company.

Overall, a logo change can be jarring to consumers if they have developed an emotional or mental attachment to it. However, changes may be necessary in several cases and people tend to adapt anyway. No matter what reason, remember that re-designing a logo can jeopardize the brand identity it helped create; therefore plan carefully and do it only for the right reasons.


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Sabrina Roberts

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