Starbucks Has a New (Old) Logo! Will Customers Care?

  I have been participating in the Re-Experiencing Starbucks Project, and this had pushed me to keep a closer eye on the company and the strategy being put into play by returning CEO Howard Shultz.  I was in Starbucks the other day – doing some research – and noticed they have a new logo!  Well, it’s an old logo actually, and you can read more about the Starbucks logo transition here. 

Why the new logo?  The new logo appears to be put into play to match Shultz’s strategy of returning Starbucks to the good ol days of a never-ending focus on the customer.  The strategy is great, but I can’t say the same for changing the logo. 

Will customers care?  Is a logo really that important to customers?  I say, heck yea!  The logo is a graphical representation of the brand.  The brand is a roll-up of everything that creates the customer relationship.  More importantly, a well-executed brand is really just a short-cut to the purchase decision.   Changing the logo can alter the relationship with the customer, and can therefore short-cicrcuit that short-cut to the purchase decision.

For me, seeing that familiar green and black logo triggered a response in my body that told me the rush of caffeine was on it’s way.  I associated the logo with the sensation.  It was recognizable from afar.  I only needed to partially see the logo on a cup to get me thinking about purchasing a Starbucks beverage.  Now the changes to the Starbucks are not huge – a second or two was all it took to know it was still Starbucks, but it just didn’t have the same effect on me.  The all brown logo is just not appealing.  It’s “what brown can’t do for me.”  (P.S. – They also have a new look to their website, and yes, it’s brown)

I think it was a mistake to make the change.  Starbucks is now forcing customers to make a new association in their brain and in their psyche.  It’s not a death sentence to Starbucks by any means, I just think it’s a change that slightly confuses customers.  Really, does any company ever need to add confusion to the customer relationship?


The Starbucks Customer FEEDBACK Experience

starbucks_header.jpg  This “Starbucks” project is now in full swing with some new posts by Becky Carroll, Jay Ehret, Doug Meacham Maria Palma, and Meikah Delid. We are starting to learn more about the changes that Howard Schultz is going to make to get Starbucks and their customer experience back on track.  So I took it upon myself as a customer feedback “specialist” to evaluate the experience of filling out one of the customer comment cards at my local Starbucks.

I filled out the card (pictures below) and said I would love to hear more about these changes that Howard Schultz is talking about and what it means to me as a customer.

                                          starbucks_form_outside.jpg     starbucks_form_inside.jpg

Here are my thoughts on the card and the process as a whole:

  • The card is well designed with plenty of space to share my thoughts.
  • The card asks you to seal it shut and mail it back to Starbucks Corporate.  Some problems as I see it:
    • Sealing it shut and having me mail it back means I have to find a mailbox.   The guy at the counter did offer to mail it in for me – so kudos to him, but what if I hadn’t asked him about what to do with the card.
    • Mailing it in prevents the store manager from seeing my comments the same day.  It would be better to have a nice box (coffee bean container perhaps) in the store where I could drop the card off.  The store manager can look at the cards daily, contact customers directly if it makes sense, and then send cards to corporate for recording or additional contact.  Sometimes it’s best for customers to talk directly with the store manager instead of a corporate spokesperson. 
    • Mailing it in also means I have to wait for a reply.  I got my call back about a week later, and if there is a problem, that is too long to wait to hear back.  The card does say “Our partners (empolyees) are here to help.  If for any reason you are not satisfied, please let them know.”  This is intended to get the customer to talk to the employees right away if there is a problem.  Some customers just don’t want to mention problems directly or in-person.  Allowing customers to drop off the card at the store gives the store manager the chance to contact the customer and resolve the issue within a day or two.  The likelihood of gaining a loyal customer, one who will endure occasional bad experiences, is increased as the customer builds a relationship with the store employees instead a corporate spokesperson.
  • Kudos to the staff at the store.  It just so happens that the store manager was there but not on the clock.  The guy at the register who I talked to said if you want to talk to the manger there she is – I approached her and she was very professional and took the time to chat even though she was’t really working.
  • The corporate customer relations person that called me back a week later was excellent.  He was professional, knowledgable, and appreciative of my interest.  He shared with me all the publicly released info about the upcoming changes:
    • Organizational realignment – press release
    • Free wi-fi for 2 hours per day
    • No more breakfast sandwiches – heating them produced an unwelcoming arome of cheese, etc that customers didn’t appreciate with their coffee.
    • The in-store all partner training event on February 26 – press release
    • The release of the five key strategic customer-facing initiatves at the March 19th Annual Meeting.

Stay tuned for more.  If nothing else, I’m a lot more productive with all this in-store coffee research I’m doing …