Saturday, February 5, 2011

What's in a Logo?

photo courtesy of Starbucks

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet." Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Shakespeare understood this as does Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, re: Starbucks' new logo. The name has not changed; it is still Starbucks, although the name is not present in the new logo. Many consumers do not understand the change. Another issue is that consumers who are very loyal to a brand claim ownership and entitlement to control the brand's image.

What's in a logo? A logo stands for a brand. Many consumers complain on Facebook and Twitter about the logo change, since they do not want their brand to change. It is their unacceptance of change which outweighs their acceptance of the company modification, a transition beyond coffee. It would be beneficial for many Starbucks customers to read Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, M.D., to better adjust to change.

The rose has thorns only for those who would gather it
photo courtesy of Parvin

Many Starbucks customers are loyal to the brand and prefer its coffee to other coffees. This loyalty translates to a feeling of belonging to and identification with the brand. They believe that they are a Starbucks person as opposed to a Peet's Coffee & Tea person, for example. The brand and its product were made for them, they believe, and in reciprocity, they own the brand.

Ownership leads to consumers' belief of entitlement to affect a brand. The logo decision should be theirs. How dare the company change it without asking them? they say. We witnessed this unacceptance with the GAP logo debacle, where ultimately GAP reverted to its old logo, due to consumer outcry. In Starbucks' case, Howard Schultz communicated the change before it occurred, and explained its reason: This change mirrors the change of the company.

We learn for our own brands that change must be communicated clearly to our consumers. They cannot manage companies although they believe they are entitled to, due to their loyalty to a brand. Companies must partner with consumers through social media channels and constantly monitor their conversations with consumers. They must reassure their consumers during change, yet ultimately make their own decisions.

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